Military Public Affairs Officers lay foundation for partnerships

  • Published
  • By Andrew C. Patterson
  • 502nd Public Affairs Office

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Military Public Affairs Officers from around San Antonio attended an inaugural roundtable hosted by the 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office July 12, 2022, at the San Antonio Area Foundation's Wells Center. 

In this first of its' kind collaboration at JBSA, a roundtable consisting of strategic military communicators convened to begin developing partnerships throughout the area, which includes JBSA’s 266 mission partners. "As the installation support public affairs office, we need to know who the players are here at JBSA," said Angelina Casarez, 502nd Public Affairs deputy director. "We value those relationships and strive to know, develop, and continue those working relationships."

Not all mission partners at JBSA have public affairs capabilities and must reach out to their equivalent service, or the 502nd Public Affairs Office, for assistance. Those who do, provide support that varies from coordinating media activities, managing public-facing communication objectives, and building/ maintaining relationships to help shape the organization’s public image. 

Master Sgt. Caitlin Jones-Martin, 502nd Public Affairs senior enlisted leader, facilitated the roundtable; introducing the 502nd PA team, led by Casarez; provided a briefing on the 502nd Public Affairs employment plan; facilitated around-the-room introductions of the nearly thirty public affairs officers in attendance.

"Technically, we're not a military service component and often do not get invited to the table. We fall under the Defense Health Agency," said Lisa Braun, Medical Education and Training Campus public affairs officer. "This is a great opportunity to network and meet the other organizations here at JBSA and start collaborating."

Attendees consisted of members from several organizations around JBSA, to include: U.S. Army North, U.S. Army South, Naval Support Command, Navy Medical Research Command, Air Force Recruiting Service, Air Force Personnel Center, Special Warfare Training Wing, Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Reserve Command’s 433 Airlift Wing and 340 Flying Training Group. 

"Thank you so much for putting this together. I've been here for three years, but can count on one hand the number of people I have met in person," said Nicole Wieman, U.S. Army –North Public Affairs deputy director. "It's wonderful to see everyone we have exchanged email and phone calls. Thank you all so much for putting this together."

While this was the first meeting of JBSA PAOs, some present had already engaged others in the room. "The reason we're able to punch above our weight class is because of the support that we have in this room...we are successful because of the partners here," said Maj. Jeff Carmichael, U.S. Army-North public affairs officer. "I'm honored and grateful to be a part of this."

As the discussion continued, it was apparent that many offices are staffed one-deep.

"I'm a one-deep shop handling community relations, media relations, and everything else inside is all on me," said Randy Mitchell, Naval Medical Forces Support Command, or NMFSC, Public Affairs chief. "Great to see many people here, especially ones I haven't seen in a while because of COVID." 

The NMFSC is a major command equivalent in charge of all the Navy medical training for nurses, Navy corpsmen, and enlisted members throughout the United States. Mitchell also acts as the public affairs officer for the Marines and Coast Guard organizations, or Sea Services, in the area.

"The best way we can be successful as a team is to be able to continue talking, making our jobs get easier. Talking right here, and helping us all as we advance," said Chief Master Sgt. Russ Martin, Air Education and Training Command’s chief enlisted manager. 

Another benefit of the roundtable is networking and learning who is doing what in the community. One example is Burrell Palmer, Navy Medical Research Center public information officer who is charged with marketing to academia and other organizations what the NMRC can do for them. The NMRC deals with conducting gap-driven combat casualty care, craniofacial, and directed energy research to improve survival and operational readiness. 

Jones-Martin ended the roundtable by thanking everyone for attending, sharing information, networking, and bringing items to the group.

"I would like this not to be a one-and-done thing, but to hold these quarterly," said Jones-Martin. "We can then collaborate on upcoming big-ticket items across JBSA."


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