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.
Chaplains and their assistants from across Air Education and Training Command recently gathered for a conference about connecting with millennials. Millennials in the Air Force were identified as Airmen between the ages of 18 to 34, making it the largest demographic in the military.
During the conference, subject matter experts in religious studies and communicating with young adults discussed with the group about building spiritual resiliency, best practices and lessons learned on how to communicate and offer spiritual guidance to Airmen and their families.
“All the attendees (chaplains and chaplain assistants) have daily opportunities to impact the lives of young adults, whether the young adults are in basic military training, technical skills training, or in flight training,” said Chaplain (Col.) Bruce Glover, AETC deputy command chaplain. “Millennials are our target population for ministry in the Air Force; yet, there is much we can learn and do to improve our ministries with young adults,” he said.
The Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, approved May 27 by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James, is among several incentives focused on attracting and retaining high-caliber Airmen in the nuclear mission, Air Force Personnel Center officials said May 30.The medal, intended to recognize Airmen dedicated to national strategic nuclear deterrence objectives, may be awarded to eligible active-duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen. Eligibility criteria and submission instructions are under review and being finalized by Air Staff, and AFPC personnel specialists, and will be available following leadership approval.
The number of Airmen seeking mental health care has increased over the last five years — and this is a trend Air Force leaders encourage, according to a lead psychiatrist with the office of the Air Force Surgeon General.
A mental health encounters report issued by the Air Force Medical Operations Agency noted that the number of mental health appointments scheduled by Airmen rose from 18,858 in 2008 to 33,274 in 2013.
“Since 2008, we’ve seen a gradual rise in the number of mental health visits for active duty, both in the military treatment facilities and in purchased care — and we consider this positive news,” said Col. (Dr.) John Forbes, the director of psychological health, Air Force Medical Support Agency in Falls Church, Virginia. “There are likely many reasons for this increase such as greater availability of providers, better access, reduced perception of stigma, acceptability of evidence-based treatments and need.”
Forbes said the stresses of deployment and ops tempo could be driving the need for care, but those types of problems represent the minority of issues leading people to seek mental health care in the Air Force. He said rates of Post-Traumatic Stress and depression have both remained at less than about 1 percent of the active-duty population. About 23 percent of Airmen are seen in any given year in mental health or primary care for some type of mental health related reason, including issues that are not significantly impairing such as mild stress, a sleep problem, or anxiety, Forbes said.
The commission tasked by President Barack Obama and Congress to modernize military compensation and benefits programs is seeking input from service members on their preferences.
Alphonso Maldon Jr., chairman of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, said understanding service members’ compensation preferences is central to the commission’s effort to modernize recommendations.
“Our primary goal is to ensure the uniformed services can maintain the most professional all-volunteer force, provide for a high quality of life for the members of the uniformed services and their families, and ensure that compensation and retirement systems are financially sustainable,” he said. “Our fundamental objective is to craft an integrated compensation and personnel system that will continue to be valued by service members, provide flexibility for the uniformed services, and be cost effective.”
To obtain these preferences, the commission will survey a number of active-duty, National Guard and Reserve service members during the next few months, with plans to survey retired service members as well. The survey will ask participants to value individual elements of their compensation package in relation to each other, Maldon said.