ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Garrett Gordon wants to improve the perception of his job at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Gordon is the Complaints Resolution Program Director for the 78th Air Base Wing Inspector General’s Office.
“Unfortunately, there is a cloud of suspicion over what we do, and it’s been that way even when I was in the military,” said Gordon, a retired Army veteran. “People are nervous about anything having to do with the IG regardless of branch, but I want Airmen to have a better understanding of how this office functions and know we are here to help.
“Our main objective is to solve problems at the lowest level possible and bring the person lodging the complaint and the unit back together so they can concentrate on the Air Force mission.”
Gordon joined the 78th ABW IG office in 2018.
Though he switched branches, his work ethic and approach to working with service members did not change.
“I like investigative work. I led and supervised troops and solved problems,” he said. “My attitude is that of one of my heroes, the late Gen. Colin Powell. He said in his memoir ‘Leadership is solving problems’ and that is my goal.”
In addition to service members, the IG works with civilian employees and retirees who cannot resolve matters within the chain of command.
Under IG policy the identity of a person lodging a grievance is protected by only giving information to individuals who need to know. However, there is also the option to report a matter anonymously.
“When someone comes through our door, we try to quickly put them at ease, explain the Complaint Resolution Program and tell them this session is confidential,” Gordon said. “The first thing many ask is if we are going to discuss this with their chain of command. If you don’t relieve their concerns of that worry, they’re not going to trust you and may not feel comfortable during the session. So, it’s important to get them to relax, gain their trust, and then they will start talking.
“Ideally, the chain of command is usually the best place to solve a problem, so I will ask if the complainant has asked their leadership for help,” he continued. “In some situations, the chain of command is the problem so it is important to work through that as necessary.”
The CRP has five resolution paths to resolve a complaint: transfer, refer, investigate, assist, or dismiss.
-In certain cases, a matter may be transferred to another IG office to process if there is a conflict-of-interest concern involving another military service, senior official or IG staff member.
-A referral means the complaint is determined to be a command-related issue or better suited for an agency with functional responsibility. Referrals are typically completed within 30 days. Once an inquiry/investigation is completed, agencies provide a Referral Completion Report to report their findings of the inquiry/ investigation to the IG office and command sends a letter to the complainant.
-Investigation may involve allegations of reprisal or restriction. Airmen have up to a year to file a complaint of reprisal to the IG. Restriction complaints do not have a predefined cut-off date. For Department of Defense civilian employees, allegations of reprisal or restriction are advised to report those to DoD IG Hotline, via online at www.dodig.mil.
-Assist is where the IG can provide the complainant with information that allows them to address their concerns quickly with an appropriate outside agency such as finance, civilian personnel, medical treatment facility/clinic). The IG may facilitate the process by making phone calls or emails to that help agency.
-A dismissal occurs when the IG office does not receive enough information to support an allegation, frivolous complaint, timeliness of complaint, or provide credible evidence of a violation of law, instruction, regulation or policy.
“The most rewarding part of the Complaints Resolution Program is watching someone who came in with a situation weighing heavy on them and watching them walk out with answers or with next steps they can take to get their problem resolved,” said Master Sgt. Crystal Dunn, the 78th ABW IG Complaints Resolutions Program former superintendent.
She worked in the 78th ABW IG office from July 2021 to July 2022.
“The IG as a whole is around to help make the Air Force better, and we are better because of our Airmen,” she continued. “The IG is an arm that can be outstretched and give you peace of mind even during the process.”
“Yes, it is about keeping Airmen focused,” he said. “If an individual is spending most of the time thinking about their problem and less time thinking about accomplishing the Air Force mission, that could have a negative effect on an operation or overall readiness. So, we try to go above and beyond to resolve issues to keep the Air Force mission moving