HQ ARPC's Spread the Word program goes virtual

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Throughout the month of May, Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center team members are hosting briefings on personnel-related topics to support the annual National Capital Region Air Force Reserve Assembly.

These briefings are one aspect of a program called Spread the Word, a HQ ARPC initiative which provides interactive presentations and one-on-one question-and-answer sessions for the Air Reserve Component.

During the Spread the Word events, HQ ARPC subject matter experts provide information regarding personnel services impacting Guard and Reserve members at every stage of the Airmen lifecycle. Due to changes in systems, policies, and procedures, it is vital for this information to be delivered in a timely manner year after year, whether in person or virtually.

This year is the first time the NCR AFRA, the largest group for STW program supports, is being held virtually due to COVID-19.

The first STW briefings were held May 1 on the topics of promotion boards and force development. While the briefers from HQ ARPC have supported STW events in the past, the new environment brought forth some unforeseen challenges when reaching the audience.

“I do like being able to see the audience as I brief as it allows me to read body language and facial expressions,” said Lt. Col. Kristi Delcour, chief of promotion board operations at HQ ARPC. “By seeing the audience, a briefer can recognize if they need to focus on certain points or provide clarification. Typically if someone has a question during a face to face briefing, I will stop and answer them. However, during an online-virtual briefing this was not an option.”

While the COVID-19 virus prevented the face-to-face interaction seen last year when more than 300 Airmen attended the NCR AFRA, this year’s event provided the same valuable information.

“The NCR AFA Spread the Word events are always our most popular and heavily attended. They give us an opportunity to educate and inform senior leaders on personnel-related matters and it was imperative that we continue with this program to reach our Total Force audience,” said MSgt Christian Picard, STW program manager. “Thanks to the support from the NCR hosts, and SMEs from ARPC, we were able to overcome some of the challenges of holding these briefings virtually to provide information that every Airman should know.”

Even though the briefings held May 1 were in a virtual setting, the feedback was positive. One participant said in a post-event survey there were “extremely knowledgeable briefers presenting and participating on the chat as well”. Another participant wrote that it was “great foundational information regarding promotions and force development.”

Providing access to professionals who can to serve as a resource for members throughout the ARC is one of the core missions of the STW program and HQ ARPC. When world events change the way the military operates, HQ ARPC continues to serve 1.3 million customers, reducing the administrative burden on Airmen so they can focus on their mission.

“During this pandemic we have to do what we can to continue educating and communicating to the field,” said Delcour. “The information we brief is important for understanding processes and procedures. The behind-the-curtain view provides a level of understanding that is necessary for the continued success of our mission, which is promoting the right officers and the right time.”

Members of the NCR AFA and others that were unable to participate in the STW video conferences can find the full briefings here.

STW teams typically travel to Guard and Reserve units throughout the year covering topics such as, education and post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, enlisted promotions, career development, understanding points and retirement applications. Briefings can also be tailored to the needs of the requesting organization.

For more information contact the STW administrators via email at arpc.presentations1@us.af.mil.