Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: June, 2017 (12) Currently Viewing: 11 - 12 of 12

June 29, 2017 at 2:42pm

Civil Engineers shine at Schriever

Tech. Sgt. Jon Vinson and Senior Airman Mason Conner with the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron from JBLM, replace power production equipment at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, June 15. Photo credit: Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez

Air Force officials are making three substantial changes to the developmental special duty process that will significantly improve the Air Force's ability to fill these important positions by adding more flexibility to the process and increasing opportunities for NCOs.

The changes include opening military training instructor opportunities to staff sergeants, reverting the technical training instructor process for three-level awarding schoolhouses back to the Enlisted Quarterly Assignment Listing-Plus website and lowering the physical training score for all DSD and TTI positions to the Air Force standard of 75 points versus the former DSD standard of 80.

Rank changes for military training instructors

The change allows staff sergeants to be nominated for military training instructors overseeing basic military training.

This change replaces the 2012 policy that limited the ranks of MTIs to technical and master sergeants.

The DSD process for MTIs will now afford commanders the opportunity to nominate staff sergeants with at least two years' time in grade for this critically important special duty. This change more appropriately aligns the eligibility aspect of the nomination process with other DSD opportunities that already allow staff sergeants to serve, such as military training leaders, professional military education instructors and recruiters.

"Allowing skilled staff sergeants to once again serve as MTIs provides greater NCO developmental opportunities," said Chief Master Sgt. Stephanie DeSouza, the Operations and Special Duty Airmen Career Management Division superintendent at the Air Force Personnel Center. "We are confident that mature, experienced staff sergeants have the skill set necessary to thrive as MTIs and better balance the (basic military training) work load."

There are currently 557 airmen serving as certified MTIs at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

"MTIs represent the Air Force enlisted corps on a national stage and they are called upon to develop America's sons and daughters into our next generation of airmen," DeSouza said.

Technical training instructor assignment process reverts back to EQUAL Plus

The second change authorizes airmen interested in volunteering for the Air Force's TTI duty to volunteer for these positions directly through the EQUAL Plus assignment system. This change became effective June 26, 2017, when the initial group of EQUAL Plus advertisements began appearing live on the Assignment Management System.

"Requirements for these instructors are rank and Air Force specialty code-specific," said Chief Master Sgt. Dave Staton, the command chief for Air Education and Training Command. "It has been difficult to identify enough of these AFSC-specific, qualified candidates using the DSD nomination process. Through EQUAL Plus, we expect to find qualified candidates in a more timely manner and have the flexibility to react to short-notice changes and requests for fills to include instructor increases."

Since July 2013, more than 2,700 TTI positions were included in the DSD process along with nine other special duties that were filled utilizing a commander nomination process. Staton said using EQUAL Plus should prove more effective to fill and manage the assignment process for technical school instructors.

Airmen interested in applying to become TTIs can begin looking for positions via AMS after June 25. A large number of TTI positions will be filled over the next year which presents an excellent career opportunity for many airmen.

PT score changes to 75

Effective the fall 2017 DSD assignment cycle, the physical training test scores will now be set at 75 or above on the previous three assessments, which aligns this requirement with the Air Force standard.

"This change just makes sense for the process," said Maj. Gen. Mark Anthony Brown, the AETC vice commander. "If you meet Air Force standards, you should be qualified to perform in a DSD or TTI position.

Brown said this change also opens the aperture and allows more airmen to qualify and compete for these positions "that are so important in professional development."

Identified as developmental due to their unique leadership roles and the responsibility to mentor and mold young airmen, the nine DSDs are: career assistance advisor, military training instructor, military training leader, Air Force Academy military training instructor, Airman and Family Readiness Center NCO, first sergeant, Air Force Honor Guard NCO, recruiter and PME instructor.

Developmental special duty qualifications are outlined in the special duty catalog.

Additional information about specific rank requirements, nomination eligibility criteria, process and other specifics can be found on myPers under Special Duty Assignment Programs on the Active Duty: Enlisted Assignments Home Page or select "Active Duty Enlisted" from the dropdown menu and search "DSD."

June 30, 2017 at 11:26am

Team McChord chaplains uplift airmen

Capt. Thomas Simmons, McChord Field chaplain, poses for a photo June 22 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Dressed in the same uniform as the airmen they serve, Team McChord chaplains do more than preach and pray.

Charged with the responsibility to spiritually advise and counsel airmen and leadership, chaplains help keep airmen mission-ready and resilient to overcome work and home stresses.

"What I'm finding is that a lot of airmen haven't been able to find their spiritual foundation," said Capt. Thomas Simmons, McChord Field chaplain. "As chaplains, we are here for spiritual accommodation according to what is meaningful and relevant to your life whether it be your religion or a matter of conscience."

A confidential outlet for airmen to reach out to, chaplains provide counseling in a wide variety of areas and administer spiritual services for airmen of different religions, or no religion.

"We want every airman to have a strong spiritual foundation to overcome life stressors," said Simmons.

"Advising is not always of religious nature but many times of ethical and moral nature." 

Besides working directly with airmen, chaplains work on behalf of airmen through advising unit leadership.

"We should always be mission-minded," said Simmons. "Commanders rely on chaplains to ensure they have the trust of their airmen and they're willing to make tough decisions to earn their trust."

Chaplains provide motivational and inspirational advice and support to airmen at their work centers.

"We want to ensure airmen are feeling appreciated and recognized, and to remind them that they have an advocate to represent them," said Simmons. "When they are on the flightline in freezing cold, a hot cup of morale and a pack of cookies will go a long way."

Chaplains work to help airmen navigate the stressors of everyday life, said Chaplain Capt. Jammie Bigbey, McChord Field chaplain.

"I believe life can be challenging for anyone, now add deployments, additional duties and trainings, along with the uncertainty of how world events may affect your life if a call to war comes," said Bigbey. "I want to be there to help airmen and families navigate their lives and achieve their calling."

Stressors for airmen can cause a crisis and interfere with them doing the mission, said Simmons.  

"In the midst of an emergency situation or some level of crisis, we provide counseling to include suicidal thoughts, depression, domestic violence, sexual assaults or whatever impedes airmen from being fully available to do the mission," said Simmons. "We want to get you solution-focused and make airmen available again to fulfill the mission and their families."

Not your everyday pastor, chaplains undergo extensive training prior to receiving the title of chaplain. They are required to receive an endorsement from an ecclesiastical body, hold a master's degree or higher in theology or religious studies and be ordained as a minister or spiritual leader. Prior to entering the Air Force Chaplain Corps, they are required to have served two years in ministry, attend commissioned officer training and the Air Force Basic Chaplain Course.

"We are required to have a level of confidence and proficiency in our responsibilities," said Simmons. "We want to make sure we are professionals in the profession of our faith."

A mandatory requirement for all chaplains is to uphold 100 percent confidentiality for all airmen they serve.

"This creates a safe place to talk about anything," said Bigbey. "Everybody has many human dynamics to them and it is important to have chaplains who can speak into the various contexts where people are involved."

Chaplains hold different professions of faith but provide an array of religious services and material to airmen of every faith group. Their services include couples counseling, marriage counseling, grief counseling, anger management, family counseling, resiliency and marriage retreats, and the officiation of marriage.     

To contact the McChord Chapel, call 253.982.5556.

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