Thursday, January 30, 2014

TOP STORY>>Base Winter Wingman Day scheduled for Feb. 7

By 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Little Rock Air Force Base will be participating in Winter Wingman Day on Friday, Feb. 7.

The goal of this day is to enable Airmen, Air Force civilians and full-time staff of the Air National Guard and Reserves to develop their resilience through Squadron Commander’s Calls and through courses that encompass the Comprehensive Airman Fitness domains. In order to reach as many Airman and Air Force Civilians as possible, this is a planned no-fly and emergency-only customer service day.

The goal of Comprehensive Airman Fitness is to help our Airmen, Air Force civilians and family members become more resilient and better-equipped to deal with the rigors of military life. We do this by promoting positive behaviors and holistic health through the four CAF domains: mental fitness, physical fitness, social fitness and spiritual fitness.

The Air Force defines mental fitness as: The ability to effectively cope with unique mental stressors and challenges needed to ensure mission readiness.

The Air Force defines physical fitness as: The ability to adopt and sustain healthy behaviors needed to enhance health and wellness.

The Air Force defines social fitness as: The ability to engage in healthy social networks that promote overall well-being and optimal performance.

The Air Force defines spiritual fitness as: The ability to strengthen a set of beliefs, principles, or values that sustain an individual’s sense of well-being and purpose.

In addition to your Squadron Commander’s Call, each Airman is required to attend any three of the courses being offered between 4 a.m. - 6 p.m. There are more than 50 different courses available, but there are neither required courses nor a requirement to complete a course in each domain.

A complete course schedule with descriptions can be found at the base website, Registration will occur online via Appointment Plus at Instructions for the Appointment Plus system are also located on the base website. Registration closes Feb. 5. Once registered, Airmen will provide supervisors a copy of their registration confirmation and only no-shows will be reported to units.

If you have questions about Winter Wingman Day, contact the community support coordinator Stephanie Wynn at

Editor’s Note: This information supersedes the release published in the Jan. 24 publication of the Combat Airlifter.

TOP STORY>>Initiatives launched in summer providing better access to care

By 19th Medical Group

The 19th Medical Group launched multiple initiatives in the summer and fall of 2013 that enable patients to obtain more timely appointments.

“We wanted patients to trust that we’re able to care for them and their families when they need us and that required us to be more available,” said Lt. Col. Johnathan Compton, 19th Medical Group chief of medical staff.

During furlough staffing shortages spring and summer of 2013, the clinic struggled to meet the access-to-care needs for their beneficiaries. Often, patients would wait weeks to see a provider for routine issues, and those with more urgent needs were sent off base. During the September Unit Effectiveness Inspection patients’ frustration with the process and access to medical care was noted as a significant issue for the wing.

“We listened to what our patient’s had to say and took it to heart—we needed to provide better access,” said Compton.

Specific new initiatives included adding more appointments in the schedules, offering nurse-care appointments, realigning the tobacco cessation and deployment health programs and granting direct access into supporting clinics. As a result of these initiatives, the 19th MDG has seen promising returns.

“Multiple indicators have shown positive trends that will benefit patients,” said Capt. Charlie Stevens, 19th MDG group practice manager. “We’re seeing some of the best access numbers in over two years.”

Data from the last quarter of 2013 shows the lowest number of patients being sent to urgent care centers, the lowest missed appointment rates and the highest access to acute and routine care in many months. The clinic reports a 70 percent decline in the amount of patients sent to urgent care in December 2013 when compared with August 2013. Also, the missed appointment rate has dropped by 40 percent in that same time frame. All of this has led to post-appointment surveys indicating a dramatic increase in patient satisfaction with appointment availability.

The 19th MDG reminds patients there are many steps they can take to help improve access to medical care. First, it’s important for patients to reschedule or cancel an appointment if they’re unable to keep it. Doing so allows the clinic to use that appointment slot for another patient that day. Secondly, patients enrolled at the clinic can directly book or cancel their own appointments by using TRICARE Online at Finally, patients can register for MiCare at the clinic. This allows the patient to send their provider secure emails in which they can request appointments, request prescription refills or simply get medical advice.

“Many patients who use MiCare find that they can meet their needs without an actual visit to the clinic,” Stevens said.

“Every day our team is improving processes. We’re working hard making access to outstanding care easier for our patients,” said Compton. “As 2014 gets underway, the 19th Medical Group remains committed to delivering timely, outstanding care for Team Little Rock.”

TOP STORY>>Fueling the mission

By Airman 1st Class Harry Brexel
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Airlift Wing Fuels Management Flight has gone above and beyond this past year. The team of Logistics Readiness Squadron Airmen play a vital part in the base’s mission. After all, without this group of 81 Airmen, Little Rock’s C-130s wouldn’t even be able to leave the ground.

The 19th Airlift Wing Fuels Management Flight recently won the 2013 William H. Penton American Petroleum Institute Award, placing them as the best in AMC. They will next compete for the American Petroleum Institute Award at the Air Force level. Even while overcoming obstacles, the flight provided outstanding direct mission support, innovative management and quality of life programs.

The 19th LRS fuels management flight’s first priority is getting fuel to Air Force planes safely. Performing nearly 9,000 refuels in 2013 enabled the base’s eight flying squadrons to achieve their mission objectives effectively.

Although fuel operators are allotted 30 minutes to respond to an aircraft, the fuels flight at the 19th LRS averages an impressive 8-minute response time. In 2013, fuel distribution operators on base pumped more than 20 millions of gallons of jet fuel.

Master Sgt. Jonathan Neely, fuels operations section chief, went on to discuss direct mission support. Not only has fuel been provided for combat airlift and training purposes, but humanitarian efforts have been supported as well.

“We provided 30 thousand gallons of jet fuel to assist 15 aircraft in the relief of Hurricane Sandy,” he said.

Disaster relief wasn’t the only challenge that the fuels management flight tackled this past year. A major change occurred in the way The Rock received its fuel. The flight’s management of the problem displayed resilience.

“We stopped receiving pipelined fuel for economic reasons. Our secondary receipt mode (tank trucks) became our primary, it took logistical juggling to accommodate the trucks. However, there was no negative impact to the mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. Josh Fry, fuels superintendent. The flight’s efforts enabled the arrival of over 800 tanks trucks, keeping 6 million gallons of fuel flowing to the base.

The fuels management flight was not only recognized for their outstanding work ethic. Exemplary quality of life programs and well-rounded Airmen made them a step above the rest. Neely attributed the success of the fuels management flight to “Airmen doing their job, and then some.”

Just over the span of a year, the flight volunteered 4,000 total hours to squadron, wing and local activities. Additionally, the flight had two distinguished Airman Leadership school graduates, two below-the-zone winners and ten Community College of the Air Force degrees were earned.

One fuels distribution operator, Senior Airman James Brooks, said his favorite part about working at The Rock is having the knowing that he holds a key role in the mission.

“What we do is put fuel in airplanes, and Airmen are at the tip of that spear,” Neely said.

The future of the fuels management flight is bright. Since the flight has won the William H. Penton award, they are now eligible for Air Force level awards.

Neely summed up how the flight feels about contributing to The Rock’s mission. “We support several different MAJCOMS here: Air Mobility Command, Air Education Training, the Guard and Reserve. We take pride in knowing we are fueling planes for people that will go on to do great things.”

Friday, January 24, 2014

TOP STORY >> The risks of smoking electronic cigarettes

By Jeff Vaughn
19th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Health Promotion manager

In August of 2010 the state of Arkansas began enforcing the “Clean Air on Campus Act.” This law banned all smoking on state funded college campuses. As adjunct faculty,  I began seeing students using something new as a result of the ban. The new device was an electronic cigarette.

The electronic cigarette is a relatively new nicotine delivery system used to replace traditional tobacco cigarettes. The e-cigarette is a battery powered device shaped like a cigarette but contains no tobacco. Instead, it uses a heating element to vaporize a liquid that contains nicotine and other flavoring chemicals. It delivers nicotine while at the same time provides the psychological comfort of holding a cigarette. Advocates say it’s a safer alternative to smoking, while critics point to the Food and Drug Administration who claims it contains carcinogens and other toxic chemicals.

So what’s the truth? The truth is we really don’t know enough about e-cigarettes to make a case for either side. While the e-cigarette does eliminate many of the harmful chemicals and tar in tobacco smoke as well as second hand smoke we don’t truly know the long term impact of inhaling nicotine vapor and the chemicals used to flavor e-cigarettes. In addition, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA, which means individuals using e-cigarettes don’t know exactly what nicotine dose they’re getting from one cartridge to the next. 

What we do know is nicotine is extremely addictive and increases heart rate and blood pressure in humans. Hypertension is a primary cause of heart disease, stroke, and dementia. While nicotine has not been labeled a carcinogen by its self, it has been noted to directly cause cancer through a number of different mechanisms and even promote tumor growth in animal studies. Nicotine use in pregnant women has directly been linked to birth defects and should never be used in any form by an expectant mother. 

The Air Force’s stance on e-cigarettes is to treat them like all other tobacco products. According to Col. John Oh, 19th AMDS chief Health Promotion, the Air Force Medical Agency, AFI 40-102, Tobacco Use, explicitly included e-cigarettes under the definition of tobacco and thus subjected e-cigarettes to all the restrictions implemented for cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. Dr. Oh stated three reasons for placing e-cigarettes in the same category. 

“First the FDA categorizes e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, second the long-term safety of e-cigarettes is unknown and finally we need to proceed cautiously because of the second-order consequences of getting more Airmen addicted to nicotine in e-cigarettes, and the very real risk that the addiction will lead to greater use of tobacco products.”

Tobacco and nicotine use have a profound negative impact on health. All Airmen need to make health choices that result in positive force health in today’s fiscally constrained environment. We encourage all Airmen to take advantage of the tobacco cessation program at the Health and Wellness Center. If you use tobacco and are ready to quit, contact the HAWC at 501-987-7288. 

TOP STORY >> Vehicle Management Flight ramps up during winter

By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management shop has provided continual support to de-icing trucks at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., this winter. 

Ice and freezing temperatures can slow down the mission when it comes to aircraft. The wear and tear from the high demand of the winter season keeps the vehicle management shop busy with repairs on the de-icers.

“Team Little Rock has approximately 15 de-icer trucks, and eight broke in one day,” said Tech Sgt. Michael Johns, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management superintendent. “It took us one day to get them all back up, running and meeting the mission-essential level. We got everyone back on track to complete the mission.” 

All of the vehicles that come through the shop are essential to the mission, but without de-icer trucks running, planes do not fly when there is precipitation on the aircraft. 

“That means the trucks are running constantly during the winter months,” said Johns. “When a truck runs nonstop, it will break, and our shop will be working on it until it is back up and running.” 

The 19th and 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons operate the de-icer trucks.

 “De-icers are similar to electrical line service bucket trucks,” said Tech Sgt. Joseph Isaac, a 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management foreman. “It’s not just your normal run-of-the-military vehicle. It carries 1,800 gallons of aircraft de-icer fluid; it also heats the fluid to 180 degrees.”

The truck has an enclosed cab at the end of a boom that can reach any part of the aircraft. Not only spraying heated de-icing fluid, but also heated high pressure air. The heated air is supplied by a super charger. 
“Essentially, it’s a giant hair dryer.” Isaac said.

 Problems that come through the vehicle management shop range from hydraulic leaks to the boom not operating. Isaac said their shop looks to those Airmen who have been stationed at other bases with strong de-icing backgrounds to aid them when de-icing problems occur. 

 “We utilize the Airmen that came from bases that have a lot of de-icer trucks,” Isaac said. “We employ experienced Airmen on the de-icers; we cater to strengths and train on weaknesses.”

Isaac said, though experienced Airmen in de-icing are of high value, all Airmen who are a part of the vehicle management shop will get a chance to rotate through the special purpose shop and work on the de-icers. 

 “We know our priorities and take pride in our job,” said Isaac.

Friday, January 17, 2014

FEATURE >> Drug Demand Reduction Program is keeping the base clean

By Staff Sgt. Caleb Pierce
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Have you ever been called into your first sergeant’s office and received a sheet of paper to report to the Little Rock Air Force Base Drug Demand Reduction office? 

The Little Rock AFB Drug Demand Reduction Program selects random individuals for a urinalysis drug test. The test provides the base commander with the results of individuals that tested positive. 

“Every morning we come in and push a button from a database that lets us know whose going to be testing each day,” said Amy Johnson, 19th Medical Group Drug Demand Reduction Program manager. “Besides the stereotype, it is completely at random. We then notify the trusted agents in our agency to then notify the members.”

More than 500 service members and civilians are brought in monthly from across the base to provide a specimen for testing for substance abuse.

The DDR office can test for every illegal drug as well as prescription medication such as all pain medications, THC, cocaine, heroin, anti-depressants, anxiety pills, spice and any of the popular, trendy weekend drugs. 

Despite the wide range of available drugs, service members and civilians are required to stay clean as well as be fit to fight. 
 “If you’re not healthy to be at work or do the mission then you’re no good to anyone,” said Staff Sgt. Brittani Newhouse, 19th Medical Group Drug Demand Reduction Program noncommissioned officer in charge. “Our mission is to ensure a fit and medically ready force.”

Given the military has a zero tolerance for drug use, it is imperative that members follow the guidelines that are in place.
“The program is important to ensure that Air Force members and civilians are following the regulations set forth by the Air Force’s zero tolerance policy,” said Johnson. 

Testing positive and not following the zero tolerance policy can result in a numerous amount of consequences. 

According to the 19th Airlift Wing Judge Advocate Office, consequences for testing positive for drugs include: court-martial, nonjudicial punishment, administrative paperwork denials of reenlistment, removal from Personnel Reliability Program, removal from duties involving firearms, removal from flying status or sensitive duties, suspension of security clearance, removal of restricted area badges. 

Any illegal drug use by a military member initiates a mandatory discharge package, and the drug use may affect your discharge characterization (separated with a characterization below an Honorable, like an Under Honorable, or Under Other than Honorable Circumstances). 

Keeping the Air Force clean is the main goal and part of the Air Force’s Comprehensive Airman Fitness domains. Staying drug free is one of the many ways all Airmen can ensure the mission continues to be a success. 

Johnson says the DDR program is here to help keep the hard working Airmen safe. Anyone working on airplanes under the influence of any substance is neither safe for the base nor safe for the Air Force. 

FEATURE >> North Pulaski Falcon takes flight with U.S. Air Force Academy

By Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

In a small high school gym surrounded by his classmates and the humming of C-130 engines overhead, a young man shoots for his dreams of playing Division I basketball.

Wearing a white uniform with maroon lettering, gold stripes that run down the side stitching of his shorts and standing in the hallway before entering the gym on game day, Joseph Aikens, a 6-foot-4-inch, 160-pound point guard simply describes the feeling before taking the court as, “breathtaking.”

Joseph, a senior from North Pulaski High School, has dreamed of playing basketball his whole life. He now has the opportunity to live out those dreams as well as follow in his father’s military footsteps when he attends the Air Force Academy as a basketball recruit later this year.

“I remember screaming at the top of my lungs, ‘The basketball belongs outside, not inside!’ because he would just dribble the ball around the house when he was little,” said Lourdes Aikens, Joseph’s stepmother. “He would even use my laundry basket as a hoop,” she said.

Joseph’s father, James Aikens, a former Air Force master sergeant who retired from Little Rock Air Force Base in 2000, said that he always played basketball with his boys when they were younger. 

“My dad got me into basketball,” Joseph said. “He was always coaching me and shooting with me in the gym from when I was younger to now. That’s just how it’s been.” 

Joseph was hooked from that first moment of shooting hoops with his dad in the driveway, but that’s not the only common interest that they shared. Joseph and his father also have a mutual admiration for aircraft. Joseph was given an early Christmas present last year, the opportunity to fly. Joseph received a flight out of North Little Rock Airport as a co-pilot.

“I have always wanted to be a pilot; growing up around Air Force bases may have had something to do with that, but it has always been a dream of mine,” said Joseph. “The flight was just to Maumelle, Ark., and back, but it was a blast.”

Taking every opportunity to accomplish his dreams, Joseph went the distance to better himself as a basketball player.

Joseph attended every basketball camp that was offered in the area. Determined to seize every opportunity that he was given to be on the court he participated in every Amateur Athletic Union tournament that he was able to attend.

“We’ve traveled all the way from Florida to Colorado and everywhere in between, attending camps and tournaments so that Joseph would have the best opportunity to play Division I basketball,” said James.

Joseph was making a name for himself, and it wasn’t too long before he was becoming recognized for his abilities. 

“Joseph was in the 10th grade when an Air Force Academy scout noticed him at a local tournament in Little Rock and contacted us through his coach at the time to express their interest in having Joseph participate in their summer camp,” said James.

James said that Joseph was one of the best players that attended camp that summer. The day after he returned home from Colorado, the Academy’s coaches were calling and expressing sincere interest in the possibility of Joseph playing for the Air Force Academy.

“I never thought that they would call me,” said Joseph.

Joseph and his father had many thorough conversations about the available options for his future with the upcoming signing day closing in fast. Several colleges were eager to have Joseph be a part of their athletic programs including Division I universities such as: the University of Utah, Texas A&M University, and The U.S. Naval Academy, as well as local Division II colleges like Arkansas Tech and Lyon College. Joseph was immediately drawn to the opportunity of attending the Air Force Academy.

“My dad gave me the pros and cons of the military life, but he also encouraged me to make my own decision,” said Joseph.
On Nov. 15, the 6-foot-4-inch guard from North Pulaski High School, made a verbal commitment in front of his peers to attend The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he would begin his college basketball career.

“I think I was just as excited as he was when I found out that he chose to go to the Air Force Academy,” said Roy Jackson, head coach of the North Pulaski Falcons. “I think he made the right decision and the Academy would be a good fit for him. It has been a great opportunity to coach him over the last two years.”

Aikens averaged 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists last season while shooting 50 percent from the field-numbers the Academy hopes he keeps producing during his four-year stay in Colorado.

“Even though he has been out for a few games this season with an ankle injury, he has been at every practice and every game while encouraging his teammates and being a very vocal leader, which shows a lot of character,” said Jackson. 

When Joseph reports to Colorado Springs later this summer he looks to carry out a family tradition of service as well as creating a basketball legacy of his own.

COMMENTARY >> Message from Commander

By Col. Patrick J. Rhatigan
19th Airlift Wing commander

Airmen of the 19th,

It’s with great sadness that I report Team Little Rock lost an Airman this weekend to a reported suicide. The death of one of our own shocks and sickens us. Our first thoughts must immediately turn to the grieving family and friends, and give them our full support during this senseless tragedy.

I need all Airmen to close ranks and reach out to others by asking the simple question, “What can I do to help you?” Many people will have different reactions upon hearing this grave news, so be actively engaged to help them through this period. Also, I ask that you pay particularly close attention to those who already may have been depressed or contemplating suicide.

We must reiterate that every human life has value. Suicide does not solve anything, and leaves behind many loved ones who must cope with anger, disappointment and guilt. Suicides are preventable, so we are all disappointed when someone chooses suicide. Our Air Force has so many alternatives available to help our Airmen cope with the stress that life presents. Your physical, spiritual, mental and emotional health are critical to your quality of life, and in turn, your ability to do the mission and defend the Nation. That’s why our Air Force has Comprehensive Airman Fitness, to give you the tools to deal with the more distressing events that life throws at us. Resilience is the ability to work within the face of adversity and come out stronger on the other side. 

The Wingman concept was made for times like this. Look out for each other. Ask the question, face to face, with someone who may be struggling. While no segment of the Air Force is immune to suicide, there are known high-risk populations and known common risk factors, like relationship problems, alcohol or drug misuse, discipline or legal issues, financial troubles and a history of mental health diagnosis. Our Air Force recognizes suicide as a major threat to the wellness and readiness of our Force, one that requires active and persistent involvement from commanders, supervisors, and peers at all levels of the organization. 

Every Airman’s life is valuable. Please help me in preventing suicides...your leadership matters.