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The IG on “complaints” – and how to start change

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Maj. Paul Deutsch, 310th Space Wing Director of Complaints Resolution

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Maj. Paul Deutsch, 310th Space Wing Director of Complaints Resolution

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --


When briefing new 310th Space Wing arrivals on the Inspector General program, I share that I am not a big fan of the word “complaint,” even though I manage the IG Complaint Resolution Program (CRP). Why? Perhaps because “concern” is a better expression serving the same purpose without negative associations. I know that military members are the last people on earth interested in “complaining.” The idea of communicating a concern impacting an individual or the Air Force, however, feels less stigmatizing and more professional. A complaint serves the same purpose and is the official term used by the Air Force.

No matter what word is used, the intention of the CRP is the same: to create a safe space where anyone (Reserve Citizen Airmen, active duty members, guardsmen, civilians, & contractors) can share a report of conditions that are detrimental to the mission and then work with the IG towards resolution. Making a formal assertion concerning a wrong-doing or reporting a violation of a law, regulation, instruction, policy, procedure, or rule is the definition of a complaint—it is a reflection of an area that needs to be fixed, not the individual who brings it to the IG.

When you feel in your gut that something is not right, consider it a hint that it is time to make change. You may not be sure how to start, you may wonder if filing a complaint is appropriate, and you might not be ready yet.  All of that is OK—the IG office does not expect you to have everything figured out when you walk in the door; it is a starting place for discussion focused on resolution options. We are here to improve your Air Force and our first step is to listen objectively to what you are experiencing. Like other base helping agencies, to include Chaplains, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response and Equal Opportunity, the IG CRP is a resource for assistance and change. If the IG is not in the best position to assist, we can easily refer you to the right office.

Remember that the chain-of-command is the ultimate resource. Everyone has one and it is usually the closest and quickest form of assistance. Yet, occasionally, members feel uncomfortable accessing their chain—and doing so is never a prerequisite for visiting the IG. If it is not you yourself that would benefit from speaking with the IG, but another co-worker or battle buddy, be a Wingman and remind them of the resource available to them in the CRP program.

Anyone can access the IG or Congress anytime and reprisal for doing so is illegal. This protection exists because the military works best within an atmosphere of trust where issues are addressed, not swept under a rug. This is exactly why the IG exists: to serve as a neutral and objective fact-finding office ensuring that the mission is executed with efficiency and integrity. If the Air Force mission is ever threatened, the IG needs to know.

I hope you will be willing to access the IG office if needed without focusing on the word “complaint.” The much more important theme, of course, is “resolution.” To get started, email CRP staff (paul.deutsch.2@us.af.mil or jeffrey.bass@us.af.mil) or visit our offices on the second floor of Building 26. A DoD Hotline is also available for reporting fraud, waste, and abuse complaints, 24/7, at 1-800-424-9098.

Your concerns are the Air Force’s concerns—the 310 SW/IG is ready to listen.