Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody recently concluded a six-day trip through Southwest Asia with a visit here April 17.
Cody spent his time visiting Airmen throughout Afghanistan, including Bagram Airfield, Kandahar Airfield and Mazar-E-Sharif, to speak with Airmen one-on-one and allow them to voice their thoughts and concerns.
During an all call with Al Udeid Airmen, Cody emphasized the seriousness of sexual assault prevention and response, and said acknowledging the issue is the first step on the path of resolution.
"The biggest struggle ... is admitting we have a problem because it's not in our nature to believe that about ourselves," Cody said. "We have to own this if we're going to fix it; we do own it and we are going to fix it."
Another topic Airmen throughout the region repeatedly brought to the Cody's attention was the recently implemented force management programs.
"Just like they are across the Air Force, Airmen are concerned about force management programs," Cody said. "I would encourage Airmen to stay informed of all the voluntary programs available and have a plan for the future. Our goal is to have as many Airmen as possible choose the voluntary programs before we have to go to the involuntary measures."
Despite the straining and uncertain times, Cody said it's now more important than ever to take care of everyone within the Air Force family.
"The Airmen deployed are making a difference on a daily basis," Cody said. "You and your families have made sacrifices during the last 12 years. Don't be afraid to say you need help, because we have the resources to support your needs.
"Build friendships on your deployment that can last long after you leave," he added. "Make sure your family back home is getting the support they need and that the Airmen you supervise have the support here and back home."
Cody added that this trip reminded him how outstanding the men and women of the Air Force are and they should be proud of the exceptional work they do.
"To watch you all do your job ... is a pretty amazing thing and something you should be extremely proud of," Cody said.
In an interview prior to Cody's departure, he reiterated how humbled he is to serve as the voice of the enlisted corps.
"I would like to thank them all for their service, hard work and sacrifice," Cody said. "I know they are away from their families and friends, and (Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James), (Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A Welsh III) and I truly appreciate what they are doing here. Being able to share time with them has been truly inspiring."