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.
The top Air Force senior enlisted adviser testified during a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs Feb. 26 in Washington, D.C.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody, as well as the other services’ senior enlisted advisers answered questions from the committee and provided updates on quality of life issues within their respective service. The testimony focused on compensation and benefits and their impact on recruiting and retention.
“Service members are not over compensated,” Cody said. “But we have to do the responsible thing here. We have to slow growth so we can work within the current fiscal reality and still produce the strongest force for our nation.”
The collective impact of the multiple discussions on changes to compensation and benefits causes stress on the force Cody said.
“We’ve been talking about this stuff for years, but the way we’re talking about it is new,” he said. “We’re talking about it all once. Our Airmen are proud to serve, but the uncertainty is stressing the force.”
Defense industry leaders and analysts received an insight into the proposed Air Force transformation and a preview of the fiscal 2015 Air Force budget during the Bloomberg Government Defense Transformation Spending and Strategy Summit Feb. 26.
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said the Air Force, like the rest of the Department of Defense, is going through a transition period following 13 years of war, and will be making tough choices as personnel and budgets dwindle and the possibility of sequestration looms during the years ahead. “We are repositioning to focus on the challenges and opportunities that will define our future,” said James. “We have to get ready for the new centers of power, such as the Pacific, and what will be a more volatile and unpredictable world. A world we can no longer take for granted.
“We can no longer assume, as we have over the past 50 years, to dominate the skies, and more recently dominate space. Many other countries are advancing their technologies, so we need to prepare now, not only for that world 10 years from now, but also today. It comes down to balance. That is the strategy.”
Airmen have a duty to uphold and must be “fit to fight.”
Maintaining that fit lifestyle means routine health checkups, having a proper diet, exercise and sometimes using medications to combat illness and physical ailments.
While picking up an over-the-counter medication at the local drug store or being prescribed medication by a healthcare provider are common practices for Airmen looking to get or remain healthy, misuse or abuse of any drug can be a serious problem with serious consequences.
“It’s hard to define medication misuse because some people think of it as medication abuse and they’re not the same thing,” said Capt. Arnaldo Figueroa, the 341st Medical Support Squadron officer in charge of pharmacy services. “Medication misuse is anything from not using the medication that has been prescribed by your healthcare provider the way it was instructed to using a medication prescribed to someone else. This is in comparison to medication abuse where there is a behavioral issue and there may even be a psychological or dependency component to it, normally known as substance use disorder.
The Joint Hometown News Service launched a new online submission system Feb. 17, making it easier for service members and Defense Department civilians to publicize achievements such as promotions and decorations, to their local media outlets.
The new hometown news release submission program is now fully digitized, and includes a feature that provides the service member with a unique link to show achievements via social media.
“This new system is really a quantum leap forward for the Joint Hometown News Service,” said Michael Tolzmann, the chief of the print operation division with the JHNS. “We’ve gone from the 1980s, where paper and the U.S. postal system were the means to acquire information, to an online system that is modern, easy to use and up to date, with real-time feedback.”
The new system will allow the JHNS team to release newly-submitted stories to the hometown newspapers the same day or within a week, depending on the number of submissions, Tolzmann said.