Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Ready, resilient, prepared

by Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez-Domitilo
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/31/2014 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan  -- The U.S. Air Force's mission of combat-readiness worldwide requires Airmen who are capable, responsible, and comprehensibly fit, both mentally and physically.

Short-notice deployments, temporary duty assignments, and unexpected relocations can often have Airmen scrambling to get their ducks in a row before departing. With a long checklist of objectives to accomplish, time is a commodity not to be wasted.

There are a few items Airmen should consider updating or arranging when at home-station to avoid rushing at the last minute. Such items include a member's finances, Virtual Record of Emergency Data, Family Care Plan, Servicemembers Group Life Insurance paperwork, and Power of Attorneys.

While not taking care of some of these items is unlikely to cancel a deployment or TDY, Tech. Sgt. Keya Gipson, 35th Force Support Squadron readiness NCO, says it is something that can become a hassle to deal with if deployed to remote areas where communication is not easily accessible.

POAs are especially important and necessary for simple, yet overlooked things, like issuing identification cards, veterinary visits, vehicle transfers and placing a stop to mail. Spouses may think they can take responsibility of these matters, but, in reality, they need a POA from the service member sponsor.

Karen Jorgenson, American Red Cross station manager for Misawa Air Base, Japan, explains that her organization does its best to educate Airmen on the importance of understanding preparedness and communication among family before deploying.

If an emergency were to happen during a deployment, they can provide communication assistance; however, if a service member doesn't provide specific contact information to family, it can be difficult to make that communication happen. Airmen should also ensure their spouse or loved ones know their social security number, birth date, unit, and deployment unit.

For single Airmen who reside in the dorms, it is useful to know what will happen to their vehicle if they are gone for an extended period of time. If they trust someone to safeguard their belongings, they should know that POAs will be required, explained Gipson.

"It is also important for Airmen to get their vRED and SGLI updated," continues Gipson. "Both systems are different, so you want get those updated to ensure the right beneficiaries are getting what is allotted to them."

These programs document next-of-kin casualty notifications, as well as life insurance payout information.

Another vital readiness item to accomplish for those overseas with family is a family care plan and their noncombatant evacuation operation folder.

"If a natural disaster strikes or a crisis occurs, we have to get the dependants to safe ground," explained Gipson.

NEO folders contain an inventory of personal property and other documents with information on where and with whom family members will go, since service members are likely to stay on station.

Having finances in order is also part of personal readiness because it can ease the mind and ensure Airmen are focused on the mission without distractions. There are methods to ensure bills are paid automatically and the Airman and Family Readiness Center is always willing to help, said Gipson.

"Whether it's setting up a Thrift Savings Plan or outlining a budget, we have financial counselors available," said Gipson.

At the end of the day, all these resources are about maintaining resilient Airmen across the spectrum of the entire Air Force.

Like Chief Master Sgt. Steve K. McDonald, Command Chief Master Sergeant for Pacific Air Forces, says, "Each of us has an important role to play in maintaining security and stability in the Pacific. We must remain resilient, focused on our mission and taking care of each other."

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