Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: October, 2017 (10) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 10

October 5, 2017 at 11:49am

Milestone changes coming to TRICARE

Beginning in January 2018, there will be changes to the TRICARE benefit. Photo credit: TRICARE

TRICARE beneficiaries will soon have increased access to healthcare through key changes that are set to take place in January 2018. With the benefit set to undergo some of the biggest improvements in more than two decades, beneficiaries will be able to take command of their healthcare through expanded choices. These improvements include wider access to network providers, updated enrollment to reduce disruptions in care, and simplified co-payments.

The Defense Health Agency recently met a key requirement for implementing these changes, with the publication of a formal document -- called an Interim Final Rule -- that establishes the legal "rules of the road" for putting in place changes mandated by Congress. The Interim Final Rule is now available for public review and comment.

"We are working hard to use the opportunity Congress gave us to continue building a health plan that does even better for our beneficiaries, the warfighter, and the taxpayers who support us," said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of Defense Health Agency.

The goal of this change is to keep beneficiaries healthy by providing better healthcare options. This includes allowing doctors to make the decisions on whether beneficiaries need a referral or specialty care instead of the regional contractors. Urgent care will be available without a referral through either the military hospital or clinic or at a civilian urgent care center in areas the military health facility is not an option.

TRICARE is changing. Here is what beneficiaries need to know: Some of the key changes that will become effective Jan. 1, 2018, will affect region consolidation, TRICARE plans, enrollment and costs. There are currently three TRICARE regions in the United States, including TRICARE North, South and West. Starting in 2018, these regions will become TRICARE East and West. They will be administered by Humana Military and Health Net Federal Services. This change will allow for better coordination between the military hospitals and clinics and the civilian healthcare providers in each region.

Several changes will also occur in coverage plans at the start of the new year. TRICARE Select will replace TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra. In the U.S., TRICARE Select will be a self-managed, preferred provider network option. Beneficiaries will not be required to have a primary care manager and can visit any TRICARE-authorized provider for covered services without a referral. Overseas, TRICARE Overseas Select will provide access to both network and non-network TRICARE authorized providers for medically necessary covered services. TRICARE Select, both stateside and overseas, includes additional preventive care services previously only offered to TRICARE Prime beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can review all available plans at tricare.mil/changes under the plan finder.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, all current beneficiaries will also be automatically transitioned into their respective plan as long as they are eligible. TRICARE Prime enrollees will remain in this plan. TRICARE Standard and Extra beneficiaries will be converted to TRICARE Select. Beneficiaries will be able to choose to enroll in or change coverage plans throughout the year-long grace period in 2018.

Beginning in fall 2018, enrollment will move to a calendar year open enrollment season like federal employee plans. During this time, active enrollment will be required to change plans for the following year. Those who are retiring will have to choose their plan and enroll to retain coverage. The open enrollment season begins on the Monday of the second full week in November and runs through the Monday of the second full week in December of each calendar year starting in 2018. All beneficiaries should make sure their information is current in DEERS now so they are converted to the correct plan in January.

Beneficiaries will shift to a copayment structure from the current cost-share structure also starting Jan. 1, 2018. With fixed costs for specific services, beneficiaries will be able to better predict their healthcare costs. Updated out-of-pocket costs for 2018 will be available at tricare.mil/changes.

While the upcoming changes are significant, the goal of the Military Health System is to continuously improve healthcare for all its beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can prepare for the upcoming changes by visiting the TRICARE Changes page, where they can sign up for email alerts, complete a beneficiary checklist, and see available plans and updated costs for 2018.

"This marks a major milestone in our effort," said Bono. "It highlights the opportunity for our beneficiaries to take command of their health plan, and our responsibility to ensure that these historic changes to TRICARE are a success for beneficiaries and the Department."

October 5, 2017 at 11:55am

McChord supports hurricane relief

Soldiers meet a convoy of cargo and equipment upon arrival at McChord Field’s joint inspection area. Photos courtesy 62nd Airlift Wing

In support of Hurricane Maria relief efforts, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron airmen from McChord Field loaded more than 350,000 pounds of equipment aboard C-17 Globemaster IIIs, Oct. 2. The equipment will support continuing relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

This joint effort to move thousands of pounds of cargo to provide humanitarian relief employed airmen and aircraft from 62nd Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and 21st Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California; as well as soldiers and cargo from JBLM units, including the 62nd Medical Brigade.

October 5, 2017 at 1:17pm

Everhart talks to airlines

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II participated in smaller group discussions with the RAA Board of Directors during the event, which brought together executives from 15 separate regional airlines. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

The commander of Air Mobility Command spoke with a group of more than 150 airline representatives, Sept. 26, to address pilot qualification and retention issues common to the Air Force and the airline industry.

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, delivered the keynote address at the Regional Airlines Association Annual Convention at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in Florida. In addition, Everhart participated in smaller group discussions with the RAA Board of Directors during the event, which brought together executives from 15 separate regional airlines.

"There is great value in having a two-way, active discussion with industry representatives because getting after the pilot retention problem requires us to understand what the airlines are concerned about, just as we want them to see things from our perspective," Everhart said.

The general received feedback on the airlines' need for increased schedule predictability for pilots serving in the Air Reserve Component while highlighting the broad and continuing nature of Air Force and mobility operations around the world. The group discussed leveraging technology and addressing policy related to building qualified pilots, and further crystallized ways to work together on solutions to the Air Force's pilot retention issues that also consider the industry's need for qualified professional aviators like those with military background.

"One airline received a request to make forty-five of his pilots available for duty -- which created an unmanageable business strain. This is why we are working to better set requirements and schedules working toward a goal of at least sixty days in advance and examining non-flying deployments through the lens of necessity," the general said. "I did emphasize that we will look to improve in this area, but the world always has a vote. The recent string of hurricanes and the earthquake in Mexico may require reaching out short-notice for support. It is important this is also understood."

Developing a larger pool of qualified pilots was discussed as a foundational necessity to building a better future scenario that can sustain the airline industry and military's need for professional aviators.

The airline executives and the AMC commander talked about ways to enhance educational quality and opportunities, particularly in schools near military installations. They collectively identified the need to partner in ways to reach students and inspire a passion for aviation and aviation maintenance as viable and exciting career choices.

Everhart spoke to the group about the developing concept of establishing a National Training Academy with military and civilian tracks for attendees. Such an institution would enhance the supply chain of pilots, addressing the shallow pool that currently contributes to competing for those resources between the Air Force and industry.

"Right now, we're starting to move past the concept stage and more toward making the National Training Academy a reality," Everhart said. "We're examining and refining three primary courses of action from which to decide. If approved at the Department of the Air Force level, I'd envision an initial operating capability in late 2019 with full implementation around the end of 2021."

The aviation industry representatives expressed a primary area of concern in that currently, there is a government-mandated 1,500-hour flight requirement for commercial airline pilots that cannot account for simulator time as flight hours. The sizable expense associated with accumulating the 1,500 in-cockpit flight hours makes the military a recruiting hotbed for the airlines. Because Air Force pilot training includes full motion simulators to better challenge and prepare pilots for a wide variety of situations and developments too risky to replicate in the air, the Air Force's practices and use of this technology could serve as a beacon to demonstrate effectiveness.

Everhart said the ongoing dialogue represented by participating in this conference is essential to addressing the ongoing challenges the Mobility Air Forces face in attracting, developing and retaining qualified pilots while working with industry on solutions that will reduce the need to compete over the scarce resource of professional aviators that currently exists.

"Just as we have asked our airmen for input on what we can do better for them and their families to convince them to stay with us in the service, we continue to talk with industry representatives to fully understand what keeps them up at night," Everhart said. "There is no one easy solution to addressing our pilot shortage. Getting this right is absolutely critical and means looking at all angles of the issue. What can we collectively do to retain our pilots and maintainers, expand the pool of eligibles and reduce the need to compete for talent with the airline industry? "It's a shared problem," he said. "And it will require a shared solution."

October 12, 2017 at 11:58am

Boone named American Red Cross Hometown Hero

Aaron Boone, finance specialist for the Western Air Defense Sector, donates blood platelets Oct. 5 at the Armed Services Blood Bank Center Pacific Northwest. Photo courtesy of Aaron Boone

Aaron Boone, a finance specialist for the Western Air Defense Sector, was recognized as an American Red Cross Hometown Hero Sept. 28 by the American Red Cross Association Northwest Region for his donation of blood platelets 26 times over a 15-month period.

Each year, the American Red Cross Association holds a luncheon to recognize individuals and organizations from the northwest region that have made a positive impact on the lives of others, whether through a lifesaving action or tireless work to benefit the community.

Boone has donated over two gallons of blood since 1998 while serving full-time in the Washington Air National Guard.  He later started donating blood platelets at the urging of his wife, retired Tech. Sgt. Denise Haigh-Boone who also donates regularly.  Boone has donated over nine gallons of platelets since 2014.

Boone retired from the WAANG in 2016, but he still continues to donate in his federal civilian capacity every two weeks to the Armed Services Blood Bank Center Pacific Northwest on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Boone explained he is able to donate blood platelets up to 24 times a year compared to only six times a year for whole blood donation. According to the American Red Cross, blood platelets only have a shelf life of five days and are especially needed during trauma or major surgery because platelets help form clots to stop heavy bleeding.

It is very important to Boone to be able to provide life-saving blood platelets.  "I donate through the military because I have been a life-long military person and it is important to me to support those people that have put themselves in harm's way in order to protect the rest of us and our livelihood."

Additional information on donating blood or platelets can be found at mamc.amedd.army.mil/blood-bank/default.aspx or sign up to donate at militarydonor.com.

October 12, 2017 at 12:03pm

AF Services launches drive for members

The Air Force Services Activity’s new member drive ends Oct. 31. Those who join by then are eligible to win a $10,000 grand prize. Graphic by Air Force Services Activity

Hot on the heels of its 2017 Air Force Club Member Appreciation Program, the Air Force Services Activity is launching a drive to attract new members.

Like the membership appreciation event, the new-member drive offers a grand prize of $10,000.

"First, we showed appreciation to our members and encouraged them to convert their membership to our new, app-based system," said Jonathan Boyd, AFSVA chief of nonappropriated fund food and beverage operations, of the August appreciation event. "Now, we want to continue to build on our Air Force club tradition and attract new members."

The new system, called the Club Member Portal, offers club members the opportunity to interact with the club, by direct messages about club events, email and text messaging.

"Members can opt in to receive messages with the MemberPlanet app and keep up with events at their installation's club," Boyd said.

Membership is open to active-duty military, Defense Department appropriated fund and NAF civilians, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, military and civilian retirees and military widows/widowers. The membership drive began Sept. 18 -- the Air Force's 70th birthday -- and ends Oct. 31. Those who join during that time are eligible for the grand prize.

Air Force clubs offer members free or discounted entertainment, such as live shows, sports-watching parties such as Football Frenzy, with its weekly prizes and grand prize of two tickets to the Super Bowl and Mixed Martial Arts Fight Nights, which feature visits by fighters at four clubs. Each club also provides food discounts, programming and entertainment tailored to members at that installation.

"Clubs offer members the ability to spend time with people who share similar life experiences as a member of the Air Force family," Boyd said.

Steve Bedford, AFSVA's chief of operations for Food 2.0, has been a club member for 40 years. "It's part of my heritage," he said. "The clubs offer many discounts, including discounts to other force support squadron activities. I also like the great programs they offer," he said.

"Those everyday discounts include $1 or $2 off breakfast or lunch, 10 percent off catering and a food-service equipment and supply lending program," said Tony C. Flowers, manager of the Nellis Club on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Club managers have the option to bring Air Force Central Programs, which include the Frenzy events and the Air Force Club Scholarship program, to their club.

"However, it's up to each club to provide programs to meet specific needs of single airmen and families, and continue the heritage of official and non-official functions," Flowers said. "We at Nellis (AFB) have gone the extra mile to ensure membership counts. We offer monthly programs such as a free haircut, one free lunch, First Friday, Boss-N-Buddy, to name a few. We also offer weekly programs like a free drive-through concession with a Starbucks coffee and breakfast burrito every Friday, and up to 50 percent off of selected lunch items each day of the week. Just last month we gave away a trip for four to Disneyland that included a three-night hotel stay, $500 cash, $100 fuel card and four two-day hopper tickets."

Membership fees on average range from $3 to $25 per month, depending on the member's pay grade and installation.

To find out more about Air Force Clubs, or to join or renew your club membership, go to MyAirForceLife.com/Clubs

October 19, 2017 at 3:28pm

The fitness guru

Master Sgt. Edward Callahan, 446th Mission Support Group career assistance advisor, prepares to instruct Development and Training Flight new enlistees on fitness at the McChord Field track Oct. 15. Photo credit: 1st Lt. Alyssa Hudyma

More than ever, physical fitness is a focal point for airman readiness across the U.S. Air Force. One airman from the 446th Airlift Wing in particular is making it his personal mission to help as many Reserve citizen airmen as possible improve their physical fitness.

For eight years, Master Sgt. Edward Callahan, 446th Mission Support Group career assistance advisor, has helped airmen within the wing improve their physical fitness.

"Originally, it started when I was a fitness program manager at the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron," he explained. "I told my commander fitness is my passion and this is what I love to do. I was willing to work with other airmen to motivate them to improve themselves and enhance their education about being fit for life."

Callahan has helped countless airmen not only pass their fitness test, but surpass Air Force fitness standards.

During a workout session for new enlistees to the Reserves, Callahan motivated them to set high fitness goals.

"Don't settle for mediocrity, don't settle for that 75 percent, go for a hundred percent or more!" says Callahan. "I'm going to encourage you to not settle for passing, and to be looking to get the next step -- 80, 85, 90 and even a 100 percent on your fitness test is achievable."

"Sergeant Callahan is one of my most motivated members, not just professionally, but personally as well," said Col. Raymundo Luevanos, 446th MSG commander. "He's always the first person to offer assistance when he sees someone struggling with personal and wellness goals. I have seen him help transform airmen from struggling with their fit test to getting 90s, and then continuing to set higher goals for themselves."

Callahan leads group physical fitness sessions at the McChord track every Saturday of the primary Unit Training Assembly from 3 p.m. until 4 p.m. The sessions help airmen with their physical fitness goals. The November UTA PT session will be on Sunday at 3 p.m. and the PT sessions are listed on the overall UTA schedule for the wing.

"Working out with a group is the best. You get the energy from those around you and it helps a lot to achieve your goals," says Callahan.

Callahan not only helps airmen with proper form for push-ups, sit-ups and running, but teaches different forms of calisthenics to improve overall physical fitness.

Airmen from the Development and Training Flight have also benefited from Callahan's physical fitness coaching. Callahan has spent eight UTA's helping the Rainier Wing's newest recruits prepare for the physical fitness challenges that wait ahead at basic military training.

Whether you are looking to get tips on proper running form or healthier eating choices, Callahan is no short of an expert. Callahan has a Bachelor's degree and Master's degree in nutrition. He teaches fitness classes at Central Washington University, and is a high school registered nurse where he also is the cross-country head coach.

Callahan also emphasizes not only being fit to pass the fitness test, but to be fit for life. He has a long record of getting a 100 percent on his fitness test. While he is in the 50 to 59 year age bracket, he strives to reach a 100 percent at the 20-year-old age bracket, and he does.  

"My goal is to obtain the track record before I retire," says Callahan.

Currently, the McChord track record for the 1.5-mile run is eight minutes, nine seconds.

October 19, 2017 at 3:32pm

WADS provides air defense expertise to Guatemalan Air Force

Lt. Col. Eric Corder, assistant director of operations for the 225th Air Defense Squadron, greets members of the Guatemalan Air Force Aug. 25, 2017. Photo credit: Maj. Alexander Hau

Three members of the Western Air Defense Sector's 225th Air Defense Squadron travelled to Guatemala in August to provide air defense expertise to the Guatemalan Air Force.

The Arkansas Air National Guard is partnered with Guatemala as part of the State Partnership Program (SPP).  SPP is a Department of Defense joint security cooperation program administered by the National Guard Bureau that links a state's National Guard with the armed forces of a partner country in order to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with U.S. allies around the world.

The 225th ADS typically supports the Washington National Guard State Partnership Program with Thailand and Malaysia. Since air defense expertise in the Air National Guard is not in all 54 states and territories, Arkansas reached out to Washington to assist in Guatemala's request for air defense assistance based on the 225th ADS long-standing air defense experience.

Through the U.S. Embassy and the Office of Security Cooperation, the 225th ADS servicemembers lent their expertise to the Guatemalan national air defense network.

This was the first of three visits according to Lt. Col. Eric Corder, the assistant director of operations for the 225th ADS.  "The key word in this program is partnership. While we were able to give much feedback to their leadership about the functionality and validity of their program, we really used this first visit to establish relationships -- because that is how this type of work really gets done. It is based on mutual trust, respect and understanding of each other's perspectives."

The 225th ADS team included Corder; Maj. John Dalrymple, senior director; and Master Sgt. Donald Pierce, air surveillance technician.  They spent a week with the Guatemalan Air Force where they participated in briefings, conversations and in direct observation of the mission.

"The fact that Major Dalrymple is fluent in Spanish greatly assisted in our ability to communicate effectively," explained Corder.

At the end of the week, the team was able to offer an assessment of how well their program, which is relatively new, is working and was able to offer insights and suggestions to add efficiencies to their operation.

Corder emphasized that there is nearly 50 years of air defense experience between the three servicemembers that participated.  "The Guatemalan Air Force welcomed our input and valued our perspectives. Likewise, we admired their unit pride and capabilities, especially given the length of time they have been performing their mission. We look forward to our next few visits and the continuation of not only a great partnership, but of a new friendship."

October 19, 2017 at 3:36pm

Professional Development Seminar invests in airmen

Rarely does the Rainier Wing offer an opportunity for citizen airmen to gather -- dressed in civilian business clothes -- and hear from professionals from major corporations such as Starbucks and Amazon.

For more than a decade, however, a committee formed of enlisted airmen met monthly to make this happen. What initially launched 15 years ago as a smaller event at McChord's enlisted club grew into the annual 446th Airlift Wing Professional Development Seminar with approximately 170 in attendance.

This year's PDS, themed "Make your Future Crystal Clear," took place at the American Lake Conference Center in September and covered topics like formal training and education, retirement planning, organizational trust, developing a Reserve Enlisted Development Plan and applying for the Enlisted Development Education Board, and other topics related to leadership and personal development.

"I believe this year's theme is part of what we have to do as the enlisted corps here," said Command Chief Master Sergeant Kenellias Smith, 446th AW command chief. "We have to make sure our steps are clear, we have to make sure that our development is purposeful, and we have to make sure that we equip our airmen the way we need to in order for them to be not only successful for the mission, but be successful in life."

For one first-time attendee, PDS afforded an opportunity for self-improvement.

"I'm always looking for opportunities to improve myself and make myself more effective for my organization -- whether it's my military or civilian job," said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Peterson, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron jet engine mechanic and Unit Fitness Program manager. "I think there's something for everybody here. It seemed at first like it might be more of a leadership and NCO opportunity, but I think anybody could benefit from it, no matter what their rank is."

With the PDS program spanning over 15 renditions, one Rainier Wing member was encouraged by a family member to attend.

"My stepdad was in the Air Force and had attended a previous PDS, and he highly encouraged it," said Staff Sgt. Lisa Neetz, 446 ASTS unit training manager. "So, I came and found out it was full of fabulous information and I've been back every year since I joined."

For wing leadership, PDS is a commitment and plays a part in overall readiness.  

"The wing is definitely committed to its airmen," said Smith. "The professional development seminar has grown and morphed over the years. I think with the attendance, this event continues to grow, and our airmen are continuing to see value in the seminar.

"Because our job is to train, equip and be ready for the mission. Whatever that mission is, be it life or be it what we do here at the 446th, we're going to be ready."

For the 2017 PDS, the planning committee ensured Rainier Wing members knew when event planning occurred.

"This is the first year that I've seen e-mails come out that says when the planning committee meets," said Neetz. "If an airman was interested, they should talk with their supervisor, and hopefully their supervisor will give them that time to attend the meetings."

The event was open to all 446th AW reservists, regardless of rank. The PDS planning committee meets every Sunday of the Primary UTA at 8:30 a.m. Anyone interested in chairing the committee for next year's PDS should contact Tech. Sgt. Corina Gonzalez-King at corina.gonzalez_king.2@us.af.mil.

October 26, 2017 at 10:11am

Rainier Wing welcomes new leadership

Col. Scott L. McLaughlin, 446th Airlift Wing commander, passes the Mission Support Group’s guidon to Col. Raymundo Luevanos during an Assumption of Command Ceremony at McChord Field, Oct. 14. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Bryan Hull

The 446th Airlift Wing welcomed its newest group commander during the October Unit Training Assembly.

Col. Raymundo Luevanos, who was previously stationed here in the 1990s, returned to the Rainier Wing to take charge of the 446th Mission Support Group during an Assumption of Command Ceremony Oct. 14.

Presiding over the ceremony was Col. Scott L. McLaughlin, 446th Airlift Wing commander.

"I'm confident that I have chosen the right person for the job," he said during the ceremony.

Prior to returning to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Luevanos served as the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for the state of Oregon, working for the National Security Emergency Preparedness staff, First Air Force, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

As a returning member of the Rainier Wing, Luevanos offered insight into his previous experience here as well as his goals as the new MSG commander during a question-and-answer session with Public Affairs.

1. As former 446 AW member, how is it to return to serve as the MSG/CC?

As a former 446th AW member, I'm very excited to be back. I started both my active-duty and Reserve careers here at McChord, so there is a sense of kismet as I return in the group commander role. I have been offered so many opportunities over the years by this wing, and now I hope to be able to give back to the military community that has enriched my life both professionally and personally. Returning with a few more grey hairs than when I left, I'm jubilant to see familiar faces who have been so gracious in helping me settle into my new role, and I'm energized by the new friendships that I've already made in my short tenure back.

2. Can you describe something you missed about the 446th AW now that you've returned?

As I return to the 446th, there is a lot of change evident: people have moved on, roles have changed, manpower levels have been adjusted - all these are "constants" throughout our Reserve careers. The one thing that has not changed, and one thing that really motivated me about returning was feeling of family and comradery in the 446th. I know it sounds cliché, but Team McChord and the 446th specifically are renowned for being exceptional, and I attribute that directly to our members. The dedication to service and caring about our fellow airmen are hallmarks of the 446th; I'm eager to carry on that tradition of serving with fellow patriots.

3. In your most recent assignment prior to becoming the MSG/CC, you served as an EPLO. Could you describe an incident you coordinated response to that stands out in your mind?

Having served as an EPLO to the state of Oregon, our primary focus was on providing Defense Support for Civil Authorities (DSCA). This was especially rewarding because it meant that we were providing assistance to fellow citizens in their most critical times of need. Our most common response efforts were focused on annual fires and floods, which could be anticipated but not predicted. Thankfully, states like Oregon and Washington have established processes that filter immediate response to local jurisdictions.

However, the one incident for which we provided the most coordination was during a joint exercise called CASCADIA RISING. This scenario involves an earthquake off of the coast of the Western U.S. along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Experts anticipate an 8.0+ seismic event which in turn would cause a tsunami up and down the coast, and which could also potentially trigger volcanic activity in Mt. Rainier/Mt. St. Helens. It was very rewarding to partner with local agencies from towns to counties to state governments along with federal government agencies. I feel like we made great progress in creating momentum and building relationships which will be needed in the event of a national crisis situation.

4. Luenvanos was the operations officer for McChord Air Force Base's last Tactical Airlift Control Element in 2009. We asked him what it was like to serve as the last TALCE at McChord.

Up until 2009, the 446th had a Tactical Airlift Control Element (TALCE). For 18 months I was the operations officer for that element. Our mission was to stage at forward locations as an airlift command and control cell. The idea is that we would be one of the first units in at an austere location and be able to set up ongoing C-17 operations until a sustained expeditionary group could be established.

It was a very rewarding experience and gave me great insight into how operations, maintenance, and mission support all integrate together. We had about 20 highly specialized members with skillsets in maintenance, fuels, communications, flight engineers, command and control and so on, and we had to work seamlessly to establish a "lifeline" between TACC and inbound Air Mobility Command aircraft.

Closing that unit was bittersweet because we were a fairly close-knit unit, and when we deployed we all deployed together. But many of us have managed to stay in touch in the years since.

5. What's one piece of mentoring advice that has stayed with you throughout your career?

Be Proactive! As a mentor, take the initiative and reach out to those people that you supervise and look for opportunities that will help groom members for success. Expect some hesitation when you are proposing change with your members. But provide those you mentor with your vision of how they can achieve growth and explain that true growth involves expanding your horizons from your current comfort zone.

As a member who receives mentoring, be proactive! Don't assume that your supervisor knows what your goals and desires are. Map out short-term (one-year) goals and long-term goals (3+ years) and think of ways that your supervisor can help you grow to meet those goals.

6. Could you describe what it was like to go from active-duty to the Reserves and what was one lesson you learned in that transition?

When I left active-duty, I really had no practical knowledge about the Reserves and was not even considering going into the Reserves. After about three months, I started missing the comradery and while talking to one of my friends, he recommended the Reserves to me. I went to one of the senior arts in the flying squadron and became a reservist the same week. I really enjoyed the flexibility of scheduling that came with the Reserves (I could devote virtually as many days as I wanted) and I was able to see many of my old compatriots from my active duty days.

One lesson I learned is that there are many ways to serve ... serve your country and serve your community. I have the utmost respect for Guardsmen and Reservists because they truly are citizen soldiers and airmen, volunteering their free time to serve their nation, at the cost of spending additional time with family and friends.

7. As the new MSG/CC, can you describe some of your goals as commander?

As the new MSG/CC, I have three goals for my group. First, by nature of having the word "support" in our group name, we have people counting on us every day. I am asking my group members to stay proficient.

It's my job to ensure that those in the MSG have the tools and training opportunities to stay proficient in their jobs so that they are ready when their country calls in times of need.

Second, we need to set the example. People are looking to the military in times of crisis. Whether it's helping out our country with situations like that in Las Vegas or humanitarian assistance in Puerto Rico, we need to be the example of someone who lives up to that higher standard.

Third, the ops tempo is not going down. It didn't decrease during my previous time here at McChord, and I don't think it's going to decrease in the future. Because of the high state of stress in military, a working environment and even in our home life, we need to be a good wingman and recognize when those next to you need help and support.

8. What's one thing you're really looking forward to this holiday season?

As we move forward into this holiday season I want to make sure to set time aside to just get to know my fellow airmen. With such limited time during a drill weekend, I think it's important to also spend time with them, it really is a second family.

October 26, 2017 at 11:41am

Air Force highly recommends renters insurance

Airmen and their families leasing or renting housing on or off the installation need to be aware of the importance of renters insurance. Photo credit: Carole Chiles Fuller

Airmen and their families leasing or renting housing on or off the installation need to be aware of the importance of renters insurance.

Unforeseen fires, floods, theft or accidents can occur in anyone's residence, and airmen need to understand the importance of protecting their families from financial hardship should such losses occur.

The Air Force strongly encourages all servicemembers, whether they rent off base or in privatized housing, to purchase renters insurance to make sure valuable items can be replaced in case of loss due to unforeseen circumstances. Property managers will not be responsible for damages to personal property.

For servicemembers living in privatized housing, the Department of Defense announced a policy change in December 2014 that removed the renters insurance portion of a servicemember's Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH. As a result, the Air Force eliminated any rental insurance requirement from its privatized housing agreements.

The policy change doesn't negate current project obligations to provide renters insurance. It does, however, allow housing project owners the flexibility to independently decide if they will continue to provide renters insurance as part of a new or renewed lease. As a result, servicemembers signing a lease to live in privatized homes may no longer be covered by project owner-provided renters insurance and should purchase renters insurance out of pocket, as their colleagues who live off base currently do.

"(The Air Force Civil Engineer Center) works with installation Housing Management Offices to ensure they provide information on not only the policy change but an understanding that renters insurance provides coverage for loss, damage, or destruction of property," said Col. Michael Beach, the AFCEC Division chief for Family Housing. "Living without renters insurance can have a substantial impact on airmen and their families, although the Air Force does not require residents to carry renters insurance on their personal belongings, it is strongly encouraged."

Before purchasing renters insurance, consider the following:

  • Know what the policy covers

Most policies will cover the actual cash value or replacement cost of your personal belongings.

  • Know who the policy covers

Renters insurance typically covers spouses and immediate family members who live with you. Some policies even cover dogs.

  • Know how much coverage you need

A general policy may cover most of your belongings, but high-value items such as jewelry, expensive sports or musical equipment and collectibles may need additional coverage based on appraisal amounts.

  • Buy from an insurer licensed to do business in your state

If you are moving to a new location, verify with your insurer that your policy is valid at your new duty station.

  • Look for multi-line discounts

Purchasing renters insurance from a company you already have a policy with can save you money. Start with your car insurance provider, for example.

  • Shop around and compare prices

Don't get more coverage than you need and ask for military discount options.

  • Ensure your policy meets any minimum coverage amounts your landlord or project owner may require

Renters insurance is a smart and inexpensive investment. Prior to your next permanent change of station, or if you are currently living in on- or off-base housing, contact your local Housing Management Office by going to housing.af.mil/. The housing team can assist with contacting local insurance agents to review your personal needs.

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