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.
Urgent care pilot program for Prime beneficiaries
To increase access to care, the Defense Department is launching an Urgent Care Pilot Program for TRICARE Prime beneficiaries. This program allows Prime enrollees two visits to a network or TRICARE-authorized provider without a referral or prior authorization.
The Urgent Care Pilot Program, scheduled to begin May 23, is for:
• Active-duty service members (including National Guard or Reserve members activated — called or ordered to active-duty service — for more than 30 consecutive days) in TRICARE Prime Remote.
• Non-ADSMs in TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Prime Remote or TRICARE Young Adult Prime.
• TRICARE Overseas Program beneficiaries traveling in the U.S. (not limited to two visits).
Active-duty service members enrolled in TRICARE Prime are not eligible for this program as their care is managed by their service. This pilot also excludes Uniformed Services Family Health Plan enrollees. TRICARE Overseas Program enrollees can receive an unlimited number of urgent care visits, but only when they are traveling stateside and seeking care.
There are no point of service deductibles or cost shares for these two urgent care visits, but network copayments still apply.
Once an individual receives urgent care, they must notify their primary care manager about that care within 24 hours or the first business day after the urgent care visit. Authorization requirements have not changed for follow-up care, specialty care or inpatient care.
Those who are not sure of the type of care they need, or who require care outside of standard business hours, should call the Nurse Advice Line.
Mindfulness over matter
At 10 a.m. on any given Wednesday, one could walk into the 305th Operations Support Squadron’s leadership meeting and see a strange sight.
Airmen sit around the conference room table and in chairs along the walls, variously clothed in a sea of green flight suits and Airman battle uniforms. Each has their eyes closed, boot heels planted on the floor, palms flat against their thighs.
Hush reigns. Only the sound of each person’s gentle, deep breathing can be heard.
A moment passes, a gong sounds. Eyes flutter open and Lt. Col. Janelle Macaulay, the 305th OSS commander, begins the meeting. Her voice is gentle, soothing and does nothing to disturb the calm from a moment before.
She calls it the “mindful minute,” and it is an initiative that has been implemented throughout the squadron during her tenure there. During her year in command, members have incorporated the practice into their personal and profession lives; it has been instituted in flights, commander’s calls, meetings and physical training sessions.
“It’s kind of like the oxygen mask analogy in an aircraft,” Macaulay said. “We are always asked to secure our own oxygen mask before securing others. I’m trying to teach the members of my unit to take care of themselves. Mindfulness is one way of doing that.”
With a master’s degree in exercise physiology and a doctorate in strategic health and human performance, Macaulay passionately believes in the importance of what she calls a “leadership and human performance culture.”
Up to 250 more U.S. forces to deploy to Syria
Up to 250 additional U.S. personnel are being deployed to Syria to support local forces on the ground and build on successes of U.S. forces already deployed there in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Pentagon’s press secretary said April 25.
The additional personnel include special operations forces and medical and logistics personnel, Peter Cook told reporters at the Pentagon. The forces are to build on the gains of 50 previously deployed special operators in Syria, he said.
During a speech in Germany on the same day, President Barack Obama announced the deployment of the additional forces. He said the expertise of the special operations forces already on the ground in Syria has been critical as local forces drive ISIL out of key areas.
The 50 special operators have improved the picture of the battlefield and made important connections with local, capable forces, Cook said, and they have enhanced the military’s targeting efforts in Syria.
The extra personnel will be establishing connections with capable forces on the ground, working on getting a better picture of the battlespace, and improving the intelligence and targeting assessment, Cook said.
“They will help our partners on the ground capitalize on their progress and increase the pressure on ISIL at this critical time,” Cook said, adding Defense Secretary Ash Carter believes this deployment will make a “tangible” difference in the campaign to defeat ISIL.
The intent is not to have the forces on the front lines or engaged in direct combat, Cook said.
Leading new generation of Air Force medics
It’s a little after 7:30 a.m. and the stampede has finally cleared the hallways. There’s a moment of silence, the first since arriving to work three hours prior. The five-story building is nearly desolate now, but a multitude of paperwork and tasks remain to be done before the 800-plus military students return from class in the afternoon.
Such is the life of a military training leader at the 59th Training Group, the Air Force component of the Defense Department’s Medical Education and Training Campus. The tri-service campus offers more than 50 medical programs, and graduates about 21,000 enlisted students annually.
MTLs provide administrative care and Air Force instruction to the second largest group of technical training students in the Air Education and Training Command — the first group is security forces. Nearly all Air Force enlisted medics come through the unit. Some stay only a month, while others may be assigned here up to a year.
The group houses three squadrons with up to 1,200 Airmen from 16 different Air Force career specialties. Only 24 MTLs help run the unit, and they are responsible for the more than 5,500 Airmen who navigate the hallways every year.
“Most of us never had to supervise a large number of Airmen before, so coming here is a new challenge,” said Staff Sgt. Britni Hill, a MTL with the 59th TRG.
Hill, who was a security forces specialist before taking on the special duty assignment as an MTL, said this unique training setting is very different from her previous experience. The tri-service environment, Hill said, makes it important to instill military bearing, and customs and courtesies to the Airmen.
“Oftentimes, it’s necessary to explain why things differ between the services instead of just barking orders,” she said.