Editor's note: These two stories are from an interview with retired Lt. Gen. Dick Newton Oct. 2 in Minot. A story on Newton published in the Oct. 7 edition of The Minot Daily News covered Minot Air Force Base.
Airmen and their spouses transitioning from military to civilian life, wounded airmen, and other airmen and their families needing support can turn to the Air Force Association.
The independent non-governmental organization has just launched a new pilot program with 12 of its chapters throughout the U.S. to establish an Airmen Transition Program.
Minot Air Force Base Key Spouses had the opportunity to take part in a shooting event at Combat Arms Training and Maintenance at the base last fall, shown in this Air Force photo. The Air Force Association supports active-duty airmen and their families.
congressional staffers tour the Missile Procedure Training room at Minot Air Force Base last October, shown in this Air Force photo. The congressional staff visit was aimed at better acquainting the group on the essentialness of the Minot AFB mission.
Retired Lt. Gen. Dick Newton, now AFA executive vice president, said the program is particularly for enlisted airmen as they transition from the Air Force back to their communities after their military tour of duty is up or they retire.
The Airmen Transition Program is a test program for the chapters in which transitioning airmen and their spouses are connected with members of AFA chapters, Newton said. "It could be Omaha, San Antonio, Minot, North Dakota, San Francisco, Langley outside of Norfolk, Virginia, and so forth because the need is there. Wherever the need is for airmen and their families that's where the Air Force Association is going to be is to support," Newton said in an Oct. 2 interview.
Newton and his wife, Jody, visited Minot and Minot Air Force Base earlier this month. Jody Newton, an accomplished singer, sang the national anthem at the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame banquet, a Norsk Hostfest event, at the Grand Hotel in Minot Oct. 2.
Newton, who retired from the Air Force in June 2012, previously was assistant vice chief of staff. His military career included serving as the commander of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB.
AFA is an organization with more than 100,000 members throughout the United States. The Minot chapter is the David C. Jones Chapter, named for Gen. David C. Jones, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who grew up in Minot.
"The mission of the Air Force Association is to educate, advocate and support not only our United States Air Force certainly our airmen and families but also to make sure this nation continues to support and appreciate us being an aerospace nation that's real important," said Newton.
The organization has existed for more than 65 years.
"The AFA was started in 1946, a year before the Air Force was established in 1947," Newton said. Gen. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle served as the first AFA president, in 1947.
The organization, is based in Arlington, Va.
"We've continued through the present day where we really try to educate the American people about the United States Air Force and the need for us to be an aerospace nation," Newton said. He said that ties in with the defense industry and informing Congress on issues that are important in maintaining a strong national defense and a strong Air Force, as well as very close ties with the leadership of the Air Force.
He said that right now the top modernization priorities for the Air Force are the KC-46A tanker, the F-35 fighter; and the next long-range bomber. "That is something I've spent a lot of time on in terms of the advocacy of the strong defense and why we need to have a strong Air Force through those capabilities," Newton said.
AFA's mission includes supporting men and women on active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserves and their families.
Newton said the organization's work is in strongly supporting wounded airmen. He said what the Air Force can no longer do as the result of budget or other restraints, the Air Force Association now will pick up the load. An example, he said, is the Air Force Association Cycling Classic, formerly the Air Force's Cycling Classic, that AFA now leads and orchestrates because the Air Force no longer can. "It's not because they don't want to do it, it's just because of matter of resources," Newton said. He said there is zero overhead costs and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the wounded airmen as a result of the AFA event.
"We've set up a major division of the Air Force Association dedicated to airmen and family programs as well as our ability to do outreach to our members. We think that's very important," Newton said. Among its work, he said AFA is working to establish more spouse scholarships.
"We want to be a value-add to the nation, we want to be a value-add to the United States Air Force, we especially want to be a value-add to the airmen and their families," he said.