Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story.
Nation pours resources into mental health care for vets
The Veterans Affairs Department is improving access for veterans to mental health services, President Barack Obama said Monday in remarks that opened the National Conference on Mental Health.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are hosting the conference at the White House as part of the administration’s effort to increase understanding of and awareness about mental health and reduce the associated stigma.
Obama delivered opening remarks, and Biden delivered closing remarks at the conference later that day.
“We’re … doing more to support our troops and our veterans who are suffering from things like traumatic brain injury or PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder,” the president told the audience. “Today, we lose 22 veterans a day to suicide — 22. We’ve got to do a better job … of preventing these all-too-often silent tragedies. That’s why we’ve poured an enormous amount of resources into high-quality care and better treatment for our troops.”
In response to a presidential executive order, VA has hired 1,600 mental health providers and more than 300 peer-to-peer veteran specialists, according to a White House statement.
The department also has enhanced the capacity of its crisis line by 50 percent and established 24 pilot projects in nine states where VA is partnering with community mental-health providers to help veterans more quickly access mental health services, the statement said.
Air Force establishes F-35 IOC target
The Air Force recently announced it expects to declare F-35A Lightning II initial operation capability in December 2016. The announcement was included in a joint report detailing service-specific IOC requirements and dates for each of the F-35 variants that was delivered to Congress today.
“The Air Force has spent the last six months looking at our initial capability requirements and the expected availability date. This announcement is exciting news for the Air Force,” said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley. “It highlights to members of Congress, our international partners, and the American public that the program is on track to bring the United States military and our allies this critical capability.”
Congress directed the secretary of the Air Force and secretary of the Navy to provide a report that details the IOC dates, requirements and capabilities for each of the F-35 variants by June 1.
The Air Force will achieve IOC when the first operational squadron has 12 or more aircraft and Airmen are trained and equipped to conduct basic close air support, interdiction, and limited suppression and destruction of enemy air defense operations in a contested environment
Airmen show cool careers in new advertising campaign
The Air Force Recruiting Service is currently developing an ad campaign to teach young adults about cool career opportunities in the Air Force community, with the goal to inspire young people to join the Air Force. They also plan to demonstrate that the Air Force offers the same science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities as the private sector.
Much of the ad campaign will be housed on an interactive website where users can walk through a scenario about a current industry and Air Force-wide issue and attack the problem using creative thinking and problem solving skills. The Air Force Research Laboratory will moderate both the submissions and the participation on the site.
To prepare for the website’s launch this summer, the Air Force Recruiting Service visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in May to take video footage of a few AFRL programs, including the 711th Human Performance Wing’s Human Effectiveness Directorate’s Calamityville program.
Oklahoma bases continue to help tornado victims
In addition to federal and state workers, more than 600 Airmen from three Oklahoma Air Force bases recently volunteered to assist residents in recovering some of their effects. Much of the Air Force had the day off to spend time with their families, but for volunteers in the greater Oklahoma area, the day served as a chance to help other families.
“This was my chance to help the community,” said 1st Lt. Linna DeCuir, 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron air weapons officer, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. “The public is military friendly, and we want to give back to the community.”
In addition to Tinker, Airmen from Altus and Vance, Okla., joined in the cleanup effort.
“If I could find a memento or picture, it could mean a lot to the families,” said DeCuir, who is originally from Lincolnton, N.C. “Even something little can go a long way.”