COVID-19 Heroes: At JBSA, Team Pivots to Serve Basic Military Trainees
During a Dec. 7 ceremony, several Joint Base San Antonio Exchange associates from the Lackland BMT Reception store received Hero Awards in honor of their work supporting and protecting the force during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Store Manager Cynthia Gregg; Assistant Store Manager Kristopher Cubacub; Shift Manager Karol Acevedo; Laborer Xavier Uribes; and Customer Experience Associates Steven Fuentes, Kaitlyn Mitchell and Manette Barillas were recognized for devising and implementing a roving, open-air Exchange store concept that has served more than 16,000 Air Force Basic Military Trainees since April. The Exchange’s Hero Award honors associates who have gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Col. Michael Newsom, commander 737th Training Group; and Chief Master Sgt. Learie Gaitan, superintendent, Air Force Basic Military Training, attended the ceremony and presented a command training group challenge coin to the associates.
The ceremony, which adhered to COVID-19 safety protocols, was held in a building on base where the trainees reside during eight weeks of Basic Training. It also serves as one of eight rotating sites where an open-air Exchange store and barber shop sets up for two days each week to safely distribute essential items and provide haircuts to trainees within 48 hours of their arrival at the base.
Before the pandemic, trainees had visited the Exchange’s BMT Reception Store to obtain the items. However, when the crisis began, the Exchange team realized a new approach was needed.
In March, associates coordinated with the 737th Training Group and Training Support Squadron to get the roving open-air concepts up and running in less than 45 days.
Wearing protective gloves and masks and with hand sanitizer on the ready, the associates have distributed thousands of backpacks to BMTs since the pandemic began.
“Courtesy of their out-of-the box thinking and remarkable ingenuity, these associates have been key in supporting Air Force trainees during this unprecedented time,” JBSA Lackland/Randolph Exchange General Manager Carrie Cammel said. “Their work protecting the force is a shining example of our family serving family core value.”