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Winning the Fight: CAP Steadily and Safely Emerging from COVID's Restrictions

March 18, 2021

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One year. On one hand, a year can seem like a very long time. On the other hand, one year can seem to flash by in an instant. Have you experienced that phenomenon? I know that I have. The novel coronavirus pandemic has been like that for all of us — a seemingly endless series of “Groundhog Days” — and yet, wow, a full year has passed by while we have dealt with the pressures of the pandemic.


Yes, it is hard to believe that it has been a year since we initiated COVID-19 restrictions on CAP. In a classic case of “do you remember where you were when…”, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. The weekend of March 13-15, 2020, was filled with an unusual mix of strong emotions for me. My daughter, granddaughters, and I spent the weekend at a family-themed resort hotel in Colorado Springs. We had an epic, memory-making weekend with the girls while I periodically excused myself to work with our senior leaders on crafting the initial guidance for CAP imposing COVID-19 restrictions that we sent out on the 14th. And then on the 15th my daughter and I visited my late wife’s gravesite at the Air Force Academy for the one-year commemoration of her passing away. Yes, powerful emotions.


Over this last year we have all experienced a mix of powerful emotions as we have dealt with the pressures of COVID-19, and yet we have overcome. We have overcome to not just survive, not just function, but to succeed despite the rigors of the pandemic. Individually, collectively, professionally, in school, and in our association with CAP.


Today is Day 360 of CAP’s support of COVID-related missions, missions that are making a big difference in our local communities, our states, and our nation. Over 41,000 volunteer days have been logged in our biggest endeavor since World War II. On top of that, volunteers and staff have innovated to conquer pandemic-imposed roadblocks to ensure we get the business of CAP done. And what an amazing job you have done over the course of this year! Active engagement at the unit level, creative activities to help cadets and adults alike to succeed, and our blended One Team national staff rocking it with continued improvements across a broad front. All these achievements as an organization help us to be not only survivors, but all the more superb in what we do!


Yes, it has been and continues to be challenging. Yet we really can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have 12 wings in Phase I and 40 wings in Phase II. More impressive, we have many wings poised to move into Phase III, which will allow, among other things, overnight cadet activities. Health professionals see numbers of COVID-19 cases continuing to come down as more of the population receives vaccinations and continues to practice good coronavirus safeguards. While we might not get all of the classic large summer activities done, I can see us still able to get people together safely and smartly and doing activities we have longed to do for over a year.


That leads me to the national conference, scheduled for August in Bellevue, Washington. Everyone’s crystal ball for how coronavirus will be treating us five months from now is hazy at best. I would like your thoughts on the matter as to whether or not you are comfortable in coming to the conference in person. Even if conditions allow, if people are not comfortable in coming it will be wise for us to change to an all-virtual event like we had last year.


Expect to see a very short survey that asks you about your comfort level for the in-person event. Knowing your druthers will help me to make an educated decision on how we move forward.


In closing, let me thank you for your continued excellence, dedication, and perseverance. People notice the awesome things that CAP is doing, and that is thanks to you. Please continue to practice safe measures for protecting yourself and those around you from the coronavirus. And I look forward to seeing you in person as soon as it is safe for us to do so.

Maj. Gen. Mark Smith

National Commander/CEO

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