All of these terms describe what the #HAHEvents speaking team experienced at #WhitemanAFB, the first stop on our brand new, USAA sponsored non-profit tour. We will be giving 8 events on six bases in the next few months and the first audience was amazing. When we arrived, I went straight to the base chapel and the lovely women at #PWOC and spoke on how to be clever, compassionate and courage as a military family member.
The next day, we took a tour of the top secret B-2 accompanied by a secure escort of top notch maintainers and Public Affairs service members. As I ascended a steep ladder that didn’t really have room for my feet, my long legs accommodated the tight space like a spider monkey. I stifled down any fear in anticipation of the view. I wasn’t disappointed, as the position looking down on the B-2 was incredible! There were white lines that indicated “walk here” and a few boxes that stated “don’t walk here.” It reminded me of my Grandma’s attic, but falling into the skin of a B-2 would probably violate some security protocol, so we stayed on our high perch and marveled at the obvious pride these airmen felt in the weapon system they maintained.
Next, we went down to the depths of the earth in a cold-war era command center for the Minuteman missile. The security elevator could accommodate 6,000 pounds. I was so glad I had passed on that extra piece of cheesecake in New York last week. The control center was fascinating, especially when you consider that a lot of this technology was developed in the 1960s. We rounded out the base tour with a trip to the Army Reserve unit’s Apache helicopter hangar. I sat in an Apache and was thankful for the support they provide for my own infantry Marine son on the ground when he is in combat. From the height of the B-2 to the deepest missile control center, Whiteman had it all. Thank you for that tour!
But it was to be continue to be a blissful experience the next day when our #USAA and #HAHEvents team met with the Command Team. They Vice Wing Commander gave us a brief on the incredibly diverse missions represented on this base, then we were able to hear directly from various commanders on base as well as key spouses as to what the financial & felt needs of the airmen and their families are on base. We took some of these inputs, verbatim, and our team shared answers to these issues in our event that afternoon.
Our audience members were about 80% uniforms, and of those military members, about 70% were E-3 and below, the youngest of airmen. The Heroes at Home Financial Event was fast paced, with our high energy emcee, the infamous Bethany Grace leading the way and four twenty minute presentations. This was followed by door prizes for an iPad, amazon gift cards and most of the audience walked away with autographed copies of my best-selling book, Heroes at Home. They were the fastest 1.5 hours you’ve ever felt. I spoke on ways to manage money, media veteran Gerri Detweiller presented ways to manage credit and pay down debt and the highly qualified Ingrid Bruins taught the audience how to save for retirement. I ended the event with a signature “Heroes at Home” message that always has me laughing with the audience and then even the most crusty, seasoned military members have to fight a few tears during the parts that unexpectedly grab their hearts while inspiring their souls. I have a such a passion to let these Heroes know how valuable an asset they are to our country and our world.
Here is what made this event heaven on earth for our team: it truly hit its target. Not only the target audience, the target intent: military readiness as manifested in financial readiness. You see, some of our service members are losing their Top Secret security clearances because of debt and other financial issues. Good people are not able to keep serving because they are no longer military ready. But our #HAHEvent gave them practical information, with easy-to-apply techniques in a fun and upbeat setting. The looks on the faces of the airmen were positively beaming, the chatty conversations as they got their autographed books and filed out was contagious and the courage these men and women show in protecting our freedoms on a regular basis is nothing short of inspiring. Yep, it was pure bliss and we get to do it again at #McConnellAFB, #EllsworthAFB, #BarksdaleAFB, #Grand ForksAFB and #MinotAFB. Please help us get the word out to our airmen and their families who are at the bases on our tour and who knows, after these are completed, maybe we’ll come to YOUR area.