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Mrs. Cody talks family, readiness support services during Whiteman visit

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, spouse of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody, meets with first sergeants from the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing during a visit to Whiteman Air Force Base March 9, 2014. While here, Chief and Athena Cody toured Total Force facilities and operations, and conducted all calls with Airmen from the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing and the active duty 509th Bomb Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Capt. Jeffrey M. Bishop/RELEASED)

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, spouse of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody, meets with first sergeants from the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing during a visit to Whiteman Air Force Base March 9, 2014. While here, Chief and Athena Cody toured Total Force facilities and operations, and conducted all calls with Airmen from the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing and the active duty 509th Bomb Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Capt. Jeffrey M. Bishop/RELEASED)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo -- Athena Cody, a retired chief master sergeant and spouse of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody, met with Missouri Air National Guard and active duty Airmen here to discuss key issues affecting members and their families, and how those issues can affect readiness.

The visit, during the 131st Bomb Wing's March drill, allowed the Air Force's top enlisted leader and his wife to see firsthand the nation's only Air National Guard bomb wing certified to conduct the nuclear mission and fly and maintain the B-2 Spirit, and highlighted the successful total force integration with the active duty 509th Bomb Wing. It also offered Chief and Mrs. Cody the opportunity to meet with Whiteman Airmen to hear their concerns and answer their questions.

While here, Mrs. Cody met with various support program leaders, first sergeants, key spouses and Airmen of all ranks, and toured facilities and operations that provide quality of life programs and support to base members.

At every stop, she emphasized her desire to listen to the priorities and challenges of Whiteman Airmen. The on-the-ground feedback she gathers from active, Guard, and reserve Airmen is important for Air Force decision makers to hear.

"The Air Force vision needs that connection with reality, so that if needed, they can go back and revisit and make changes that make it better for everybody," she said.

In her meeting with a group of first sergeants from the 131st, Mrs. Cody discussed the strengths and challenges unique to Citizen Airmen.

"Most Guard members have a support system built in: churches, families and communities," she said, "but oftentimes they don't know what's available to them, or even what they might need."

Of particular importance to Mrs. Cody is the work of recovery care coordinators at every installation, who help combat-injured Airmen navigate through their rehabilitation process. She wants to ensure that active duty and Air National Guard wounded warriors do not fall through the cracks and miss out on vital services these coordinators provide.

Leveraging her experience as a military member married to another military member, she also offered insights - her "pearls of wisdom" - for addressing the unique challenges of such marriages, including to not "take work home," and to share home-front responsibilities. She also reminded Airmen that, at home and on base, both are members on the same team.

The visit also allowed Mrs. Cody to benchmark best practices gleaned from her previous visits to active duty and Air National Guard units - and to gather best practices from her visit here to share with units that she'll visit after leaving Whiteman.