Thursday, December 15, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Team Little Rock: The right combination

By Major Justin Barry

314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Roughly two weeks ago, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz was discussing the need to find the right combination of efficiency and effectiveness in light of forecasts for tight budgetary constraints through the foreseeable future. He said, “Finding the right balance of regular, Reserve and Guard forces is the key to maintaining future Air Force capabilities during (this) dramatic period of budget austerity.” This “right balance” is the key to the success of the organizational construct known as Total Force Integration, in which active duty and reserve component forces blend seamlessly to provide combat capability for our nation’s defense.

As is the case in so many areas, Team Little Rock and its Center of Excellence are in the vanguard of Air Force TFI efforts. As many already know, Team Little Rock is home to two active duty C-130 wings (the 314th and 19th), as well as the 189th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard. Helping cement the truly “total force” nature of our operations, we have with us now the lead elements of the 22nd Air Force’s Detachment 1 from the Air Force Reserves.

In a unique integration effort, our Reserve counterparts are blending into the daily operations of my Blue Aircraft Maintenance Unit, as well as those of our brethren flying in the 62nd Airlift Squadron. That alone does not make this integration unique. There are many blended units throughout the Air Force which utilize both active duty and reserve component personnel to accomplish their missions.

What is truly special about this TFI project? Over the next three years, the Reservists with Detachment 1 won’t only pick up the majority of the responsibility for launching, recovering, maintaining and flying our C-130H2 aircraft in support of Air Education and Training Command’s training mission, the Det 1 personnel will also be integrated and associated with the 189th. This integration is unique because Air Force Reserve Command personnel will be associated with an Air National Guard wing to perform a mission-set in support of an AETC requirement. That requirement, and our charge, is to produce combat-ready aircrews able to provide tactical airlift support at a moment’s notice, around the globe.

My counterpart, Maj. Richard Rogers, Detachment 1 maintenance commander, and I are working hand-in-hand to ensure our units are moving in the correct direction to meet all the milestones for the association with the Air National Guard and the time-phased handoff of our legacy Herc training mission. The same can be seen in the flying squadrons as well. This TFI effort is beginning to grow legs and gain momentum as more and more reserve personnel arrive each month. There is still a long row to hoe, but we are in it together to ensure safe, effective and efficient mission accomplishment.

General Schwartz said, “We need to capitalize on the incredible synergy we gain from Reserve and Regular Air Force Airmen working as one team. With the proper balance, I know we can create a strategic depth and an immediate-response force that is efficient, effective and has a combat capability second to none.” You see that synergistic and balanced team right here at TLR, the foundation and home of Combat Airlift.

COMMENTARY>>Holiday wishes from the top

By Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr.

Air Education and Training Command commander

The winter holidays bring an array of celebrations that highlight the diverse cultures that make our nation great. What unites so many of those festivities is a spirit of thankfulness for the many blessings we share. Teresa and I want to wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season and say thank you to all the men and women of Air Education and Training Command for making 2011 such a success.

Closest to our hearts are all the deployed members of the command and their families. Having gone through this experience ourselves, we know how deployments over the holidays can be particularly tough, not just on the Airmen, but particularly the families back home. This year, more than 6,000 AETC Airmen have deployed around the globe. Thanks to your exceptional diligence and readiness, AETC answered the call to send our people to multiple worldwide operations while also maintaining our total commitment to training and educating the world’s finest Air Force!

For those of us not deployed, I ask that as you make your holiday plans for quality time with family and friends, please know that I take personal interest in your safety and well-being. Be smart and make good decisions. If you’re traveling, use caution and allow yourself time for delays. Make arrangements ahead of time so you’re never in a position to consider drinking and driving. The world’s greatest Air Force is nothing without its number one asset – you.

As we celebrate together, I also ask you to remember the families of our deployed Airmen as well as our single Airmen. In the spirit of camaraderie that makes our Air Force such a special family, I hope you’ll welcome them into your holiday gatherings here at home.

The bonds we build today serve to strengthen the command for tomorrow…and continue to make our United States Air Force the most respected airpower in the world. Happy holidays, AETC. Thank you for all that you do to keep our nation secure.

TOP STORY >>Timely tips for tax season

By Airman 1st Class Regina Agoha

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Tax season is right around the corner. This part of the year can be very stressful and overwhelming if one is slothful at getting their documents together for filing their taxes.

Here at Little Rock Air Force Base, members who will be working at the tax center have given helpful tips to make sure everyone can get their taxes done in a timely manner and with as much ease as possible.

“The W-2s for the Air Force should be out at some point in January,” said Capt. Catherine Deist, 19th Airlift Wing chief legal assistant.

“For the tax center on base, which will be located at the Thomas Community Activities Center, Feb. 1 will be the first day for filing taxes, but people can start filing their taxes as soon as they get their W-2s.” said Capt. Tamera Kennard, 19th Airlift Wing chief of civil law

“There is a website that’s free for all military members and dependants to use to file their own taxes,” said Deist. “This website, (, can do Turbo Tax as well as H&R Block. It is recommended because it’s a very easy site to use. The website however, is not free for retirees.”

For those who will be using the tax center’s services, Kennard said, here are some documents needed: W-2s, proof of jury duty pay, proof of alimony received, social security statement (1099-SSA), dividend and interest statements (1099-DIV and 1099-INT), retirement distributions (1099-R), and brokerage statements (1099-B), along with statements showing when you bought and sold your investments.

Other tax documents are: HUD-1 Escrow statement for property bought or sold, summary of moving expenses, summary of educational expenses (college tuition and books not paid for by government), summary of child care, day care, or adult day-care expenses, IRA contributions (traditional, SEP, or rollovers), and student loan interest paid (1098-E).

Tax deduction documents include: health care expenses, real estate taxes, motor vehicle registration, mortgage interest paid (1098), gifts to charity (anything over $250 needs a receipt), last year’s tax preparation fees, loss of property due to casualty or theft, and gambling losses.

These documents may also be helpful to have for those using, or filing taxes on their own.

“A helpful note for military-tax filers who have rental homes,” Deist said, “is when you are renting your home, and you’re not making any money off it, and you profit, technically, if you’re renting it out for whatever the cost of your mortgage is, it’s still income. For example, if you’re renting your home out for $1, you’re making $1 per month in income, and that needs to be listed on your tax forms.” That’s a huge mistake Deist said she’s seen people make, and if they get audited, it’s a big deal.

This year the tax center is not doing rental property, so that website would be a good source for those who rent homes to use, said Deist.

“April 16 is the last day to file taxes and also the last day the tax center will be open,” said Kennard.

There are unknown penalties for not filing taxes on time, Kennard said. One can file for an extension but not through the tax center. They have to go to the IRS website at and file for an extension on line.

“If someone is deployed in a combat zone during tax season however, they get 180 days from the day they return to file their taxes,” said Deist.

The Spousal Relief Act is something military members need to ask their personal tax preparer if they qualify for, said Deist. “We get a lot of questions about this, but it’s only for very particular situations.”

Deist and Kennard want to make known that the tax center is really for easy taxes. It would be better to use th e military one source website for the more complicated situations. It’s very easy to use, and it will ask the right questions to help you step-by-step.

For more general questions about filing taxes, one can call the legal office at 987-7886. This number however, is not for legal questions because legal advice cannot be given over the phone.

TOP STORY >>Alcohol: Testing your knowledge

Mina Underwood

19th Medical Group – ADAPT Program, Certified Alcohol
and Drug Abuse Counselor

Just open the container and drink – right? Do you really know how to drink alcohol? You know exactly how many drinks it takes to get a buzz and how many to get drunk –right? If you’re a seasoned drinker you might think you have your drinking down to a fine science, but you could be wrong. There are so many factors that can throw your plan right out the window.

SLEEP: When you‘ve had a good night’s sleep, you feel great and having a couple of drinks may be no big deal. Some people have a difficult time sleeping and, since alcohol makes them sleepy, they may try to use it to sleep. The problem is that it prevents them from getting deep, restorative sleep. They stay in the superficial levels of sleep and wake up sore and tired. What if you haven’t slept well and you drink alcohol? You’re already tired and now you’re adding a depressant to your system – be aware of what your body is telling you.

MOOD: Keep your edge. Alcohol is a depressant, or downer, because it reduces brain activity. If you are depressed before you start drinking, alcohol can make you feel worse. Here’s a bit of advice that could save your life: If you’re depressed, don’t drink. The same lack of inhibitions that can lead a drinker to wear a lampshade as a hat, can have consequences that are far more tragic for people with suicidal thoughts.

Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in a large sample of suicide victims whose blood alcohol levels were measured post mortem, one in four had been legally drunk.

MEDICATION: Know the risks – alcohol is a drug. Mixing it with any other drug can be extremely dangerous. Alcohol and acetaminophen, a common ingredient in over the counter pain and fever reducers, can damage your liver. Alcohol mixed with drugs can cause nausea, vomiting, fainting, heart problems and difficulty breathing. Mixing alcohol and drugs can also lead to death.

YOUR PERSONALITY: Some people’s personality really changes when they drink. You’ve probably been around someone who was a mean drunk, a happy drunk and asloppy drunk. The bottom line is that there will be some kind of personality change. As your blood alcohol count goes up, your perceived ability to do something is increased. While in reality your actual ability is diminished. This is what causes people to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking. They think they’re ok, but they’re not.

YOUR BEHAVIOR: The vast majority of people who consume alcoholic beverages do not engage in criminal behavior. However, it plays a part in domestic violence. Consider the statistics:

- Alcohol is present in more than half of all incidents of domestic violence, with women most likely to be battered when both partners have been drinking.

- About 70 percent of alcohol-related incidents of violence occur in the home and begin with the greatest frequency at 11 p.m.; 20 percent of these incidents involve the use of a weapon other than hands, fists or feet.

YOUR PLAN: DWIs/DUIs, underage drinking, public intoxication and binge drinking continue to plague Team Little Rock.

Alcohol is not going anywhere. We will never go back to the days of prohibition. You’re going to have to decide what role drinking alcohol will have in your life. Are you going to control alcohol or is alcohol going to control you? What are you doing to make sure you don’t become a statistic? What are you doing to make sure your friends and subordinates don’t become a statistic?

Always ask yourself before you drink: You + alcohol = ?

If you think you have a problem with alcohol, or need some education, please contact the ADAPT Clinic @ 987-7338.

Statistics obtained from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

Friday, December 9, 2011

COMMENTARY >> Little Rock to test new Quick Don Mask for Airmen

By Karen Dooney
Air Mobility Command Test and Evaluation Squadron

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. – Little Rock Air Force Base is one of four bases testing the new Quick Don Mask in an effort to buttress Air Mobility Command’s aviation safety improvements.
 Did you know at or above 35,000 feet you have less than 10 seconds during a rapid decompression to don an oxygen mask before your time of useful consciousness is exceeded and you black out? This may not cross your mind while traveling on a commercial airline, but military service members must think of it every day. It becomes worse if a fire occurs...fumbling with a pair of smoke goggles is the last thing you want to be doing.

The Air Force’s current Quick Don Mask consists of a two part assembly: the primary oxygen mask and a separate anti-smoke goggle. Crewmembers required additional time to don the mask and goggle, distracting them from reacting to the situation at hand, and ultimately leading to safety concerns for the Air Force. In reaction to these safety concerns, the AMC commissioned AVOX Systems Inc, to develop a new oxygen mask integrating the breathing portion with the smoke goggles that met stringent Federal Aviation Administration requirements for the mask to be donned in 5 seconds or less. Additionally the AVOX Quick Don Mask was designed as a “one size fits all” mask and also accommodates members wearing prescription glasses.

Military members can breathe easier knowing that the new Quick Don Mask is being tested by Test Directors from the Air Mobility Command’s Test and Evaluation Squadron at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB-MDL), New Jersey. To cover AMC’s vast range of mobility aircraft, the modified AVOX Quick Don Mask is being tested in four phases: the C-130E/H at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; C-130J at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.; KC-135 at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.; and C-17 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N. J.

The new AVOX Quick Don Mask is just one of AMC’s aviation safety improvements. According to the Chief of Staff in 2010, “We recorded the safest year in aviation history for the second consecutive year, achieving decreases in flight mishap rates in almost every category, clearly illustrating our institutional commitment to preserving our equipment and people.” With the help of personnel throughout McConnell Air Force Base and the Air Force, we can continue to maintain the Air Force’s commitment to care for our airmen and their families, whether on the ground or in the air.

TOP STORIES >> Paws, gauze, claws

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Molly enthusiastically, but not without trepidation, walks through the swinging door of the base clinic and impatiently waits for her turn to see the doctor. She got a little nervous about her checkup during the car ride, but her fears were quelled by the calming presence of her friend beside her. Other voices at the clinic soothed her apprehension as well, but there is restlessness in Molly, she can’t stop fidgeting, and she won’t sit down in the waiting area. The receptionist flashes a smile at her, greeting Molly cordially, and Molly rushes towards her to say hi, but there’s something stopping her from going over all the way to the desk, a harness leash strapped on her back.

Molly is a miniature dachshund, and is going to veterinary clinic on base as part of a routine check-up. The base’s veterinary clinic is responsible for treating nearly 2,500 animals a year, including eight military working dogs, each worth more than $50,000 a piece.

“Our primary mission is to care for the military working dogs,” said Army Staff Sgt. Darlene Barrios, an animal care specialist at the base clinic. “They’re considered service members. They deploy like service members to places all over the world, including the AOR and we have to give them the medical treatment true service members deserve.”

Military working dogs are given an assortment of medical treatment to ensure their health and mission readiness. Treatments include biannual full-body physicals, special teeth cleaning and blood work to check the dogs for any health impediments.

In addition to giving the dogs extensive treatment, animal care specialists also work with the Security Forces Squadron to teach their kennel masters and handlers first aid for the animals, and ensure they are certified to handle the dogs.

“There are quarterly requirements to certify they are handler-capable,” said Barrios. “We give them a lot of training on top of taking care of the dogs ourselves. That’s the big mission we’re responsible for, making sure these dogs are taken care of and their handlers know how to take care of them is important for our mission.”

While the military working dogs are the most expensive, and important aspect of the clinic’s services to the Air Force, the majority of their clientele are domestic animals, Barrios said. The clinic offers a variety of services to pet owners on base including vaccinations, blood work, surgery, x-rays, dental work and treating illnesses.

Most of the animals that walk, or get carried, through the clinic’s doors are canines, like Molly, or felines, like Meow Meow, an elder medium-haired cat brought in for a routine checkup. From the waiting room the animals are taken down the hall where they are looked at by one of the doctors of veterinary medicine on staff.

Carolyn Stewart, D.V.M, will inspect the animals and give them routine tests such as finding their heart rate and taking their temperature. Some animals are happy and cooperative, like Molly. But some animals, like Meow Meow, aren’t as cooperative during their day at the doctor’s office. Several times during his checkup, Meow Meow jumps off the table and hides behind a chair in the corner of the office.

Stewart, weighing Meow Meow on the chrome scale located on the top of the check-up table, remarks that he could probably stand to lose some weight.

“Being overweight can lead to a lot of problems like diabetes,” she said. Stewart cautions the owner to help the cat drop weight by watching its diet.

Barrios said the workers at the clinic can give good health tips to pet owners and help ensure the safety and vivacity of domestic animals. She said that every pet owner should consider getting a microchip implanted in their animal; it’s a quick and harmless operation that can lead to the recovery of lost pets.
Additionally Army Maj. Mary Sprangel, installation veterinarian, would like all customers to know there has been a change in rules for transporting pets overseas. Information about regulations can be found at

“We have a great, dedicated, friendly and wonderful staff here,” she said. “We urge everyone to read on the rules for taking pets overseas, the more you know the better.”

For more information on the base veterinarian clinic or to schedule an appointment, call 987-7249.

TOP STORY >> Holiday driving safety reminder for the Rock

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

– Robert Frost

Frost-tipped tree branches, barren of leaves, bristling pines and the tranquil Arkansas landscape, evinced by rolling hills, bounding deer, and other wildlife, can be a charming and disarming site to spectators; however, Team Little Rock members shouldn’t let the calm, sterilized, atmospheric tides of winter put their awareness to sleep while driving those many miles , or else they may be thrown in tumult with consequences like damaged property, speeding tickets, traffic violations, and, at worst, injuries and casualties to themselves and others.

During the holiday season it’s feasible that service members may be given early-dismissal or late-reporting times. The base commander encourages TLR members to drive extra carefully when this occurs, and to always check with their chain of command to verify early-dismissals or late-reporting times.

“I want to make sure that every TLR member adheres to proper safety precautions when road conditions get dicey,” said Col. Mike Minihan, 19th Airlift Wing commander. “A base-wide speed limit of 15 mph will be enforced when there is an early-dismissal or late-reporting date.  Additionally, everyone should verify any changes to working schedules with their supervisors and chain of command. Posts made on social-media networks like Facebook may not apply to everyone on the base.”

The most hazardous time for drivers, especially in the winter time, is in the dead of the night, said Tech. Sgt. Ricky Carroll, 19th AW ground safety technician. The long stretches of rural roads with sparse surrounding and occasionally no street lights can turn a car into a dangerous machine.
“You are twice as likely to have a fatal accident during night as during the day,” Carroll said. “The sudden appearances of street lights or bright lights from other cars are real problems. The problems are only amplified when the road is slick from rain, snow or ice.”

Along with being cautious for weather changes, drivers should also remember to be on the look-out for pedestrians and wildlife, said Carroll. Also be advised of school-children, driving in school zones and above all, be aware of the other drivers on the road.

“It’s always best to practice defensive driving,” said Carroll. “Just take the steps to be courteous to other drivers even if you think they aren’t being courteous to you. Nobody wins when there’s a car collision or when a pedestrian gets struck because two drivers were not practicing safe driving techniques.”

Watch the weather forecast, he said. It’s not always perfect, but it’s a good indicator of what’s going to happen in the area, and can give drivers a heads up on preparing for snow, ice and inclement weather.
“We can get some chilly weather up here,” Carroll said. “Being the south, it seems like people aren’t always as ready for the snow as they should, or when the snow comes, they aren’t always sure how to react to it. Cold weather can be dangerous, heaters can break, cars can break down, accidents happen and cold weather can make it worse.”

It’s good to keep a stock of warm items in the car, he added. Flashlights, blankets, water, and extra warm gear can be helpful in the event of an ill-timed breakdown. It’s always prudent to think safety first no matter the time of year or place.

“Extra batteries are important in the winter time, and even a generator may be helpful if power is lost,” Carroll said. “The important thing is to think ahead and always try to be prepared. That way the odds of situations catching you unaware and leaving you in a bad situation are less. Luck favors the well prepared”

So while driving down those long, sometimes-isolated, stretches of Arkansas highway, byways and access roads, try to stay alert and save the sleeping, figuratively and literally, for the bedroom.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Ready ready roll

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

On a frosty morning, when most people are still snuggling a blanket in bed to stay warm, instructors with the 62nd Airlift Squadron were laboring over table-tops of details preparing themselves and their students for flight.

Maj. Doug Buchholz, a 62nd AS evaluator pilot, and Capt. James Sinclair, a 62nd AS instructor navigator, are flying with Capt. Matt Thomas, a 109th Airlift Squadron student co-pilot, and 1st Lt. Cameron Koehler, 47th Operations Support Squadron student pilot, on their “check” flight, the flight which will determine whether they become qualified C-130H pilots.

“If they finish this flight successfully they’ll be officially certified C-130H pilots,” said Buchholz. “The process to be (C-130H) certified is an 18-24 month process so passing the check flight is a big deal.”

The check flight will grade the prospective pilots on their ability to meet the mission’s criteria. Prior to the formation briefing the four-man crew sits together at their mission-table and discusses the day’s mission.

“You’ll be graded, but don’t hesitate to ask for help,” Sinclair tells the student pilots. “This is still an instructional sortie, if you make a mistake, roll with it.”

Buchholz expects the students, who they’ve been working with for nearly six month, to do just fine, but wants to make sure they’re not fazed by adversity during flights.

“They’ve made a lot of strides since they’ve gotten here,” he said. “Before (training) they only used (C-130)simulators, they’re a lot more involved now in the process then when they got here.”

After discussing preliminary flight concerns, the crew is summoned to the conference room for the formation briefing, delivered by the mission commander.

During the briefing the crew is instructed on the mission overview, objective, priorities, situational concerns and prospective threats.

After the formation briefing the crew reconvenes at their table and dives into the table-top briefing, the final major step before the crew steps out to begin their flights.

“This is the last chance for us to make any changes,” Buchholz said.

During the table-top briefing, Thomas thoroughly instructs the students on a number of topics concerning the flight, including the route points, navigational issues, flight plan and the most important part, the drop off.

Although they will be examined on a number of criteria, the most important thing the instructors are looking for is the ability of their students to communicate to the crew during their flights.

“If you have any questions at all for anyone don’t hesitate to ask,” Sinclair said. “You’ll need to be able to talk to everybody out there, including the loadmasters.”

As Sinclair concludes the table-top brief, and asks the students if they have any more questions about the day’s sortie, Buchholz agrees that the success of the mission primarily rests on the student’s ability to communicate with their crew.

Before leaving for the plane, Koehler and Thomas both express eagerness to complete the day’s mission and get certified as pilots.

“I’ve been here almost six months,” Thomas said. “It’ll be good to get back home.”

When he returns home, he hopes it’ll be as a certified C-130H pilot, and under the guidance and instruction of the 62nd’s instructors that may just happen.

TOP STORY >>Airmen’s names used in online scams

By Chris McCann
Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson Public Affairs

Thanks for replying to my ad. I’m in a hurry to find a buyer because I have a family emergency and I need to sell it before 22 November. My name is Larry. I’m an Air Force Staff Sergeant stationed at an AF Base in Anchorage, Alaska. The truck is here with me.

“This 2000 Toyota Tundra SR5 4 Wheel Drive, has 72,000 miles on it, Automatic 4SPD, 4.7L V8. A/C, Cruise Control, Heated Seats, Tow Package, Traction Control and more... It has no damage, no scratches or dents, no hidden defects....

“The price is $2,690. If you want to buy this SUV I will take care of the delivery to your door (with an AF cargo plane to the nearest AF Base) and I will offer 5 days to inspect the vehicle and take it to your mechanic from the moment you receive it (and the option to accept or reject it), before I’ll have your money...”

Sounds too good to be true?

That’s because it is.

This scam and others similar to it have circulated around Craigslist for a few years now.

Service members of all branches have had their names used as the “sellers” of these vehicles. Often, the ad even states that an Air Force tow truck will take the vehicle from the nearest Air Force base to the buyer’s house. The photos are taken from other Craigslist ads, photo-hosting sites and even car dealership websites.

Unfortunately, people can and do get conned into sending money, and the car of course never shows up.

Staff Sgt. Amanda Gibson, an approving official for the 3rd Munitions Squadron here, was a “seller” – much to her surprise.

“I found out through an email from someone at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, (Ohio),” Gibson said. “I thought it was over. ... Then I got a call from security forces at a base in Pennsylvania because a civilian had gotten in touch with them and asked if I was real.”

She was also mentioned in an article in the Hartford, (Conn.) Courant about the scam, she said.

In all, she has found her name in 61 scam advertisements and continues to get occasional emails about the vehicle she’s allegedly selling. Gibson has filed reports with the Federal Trade Commission and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, she said.

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done. The scammers are not in the U.S. in most cases. FBI Agent Tim Gallagher, the section chief of the bureau’s cyber division, said that the FBI has arrested people in connection with the scams overseas.

However, that may be cold comfort to those who have been duped.

“I think service members’ names are chosen because it’s relatively easy to verify that we exist, and people want to trust military people,” Gibson said.

It’s also easy to search for a name and get results, even phone numbers, which makes potential victims think it’s legitimate. For example, even Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Kuehnl, the 673rd Air Base Wing senior enlisted advisor here, was shocked to get a call on her duty phone about a vehicle she was allegedly selling.

“I have sold things on Craigslist in the past, so the first email didn’t surprise me,” Kuehnl said. “But I would never use the duty phone. That spooked me.”

Alaska seems to be a good place for the scammers to claim as the car’s location, since it’s remote, Gibson said. Often, people don’t realize it’s a scam until they offer to make a trip to take a look at the car, which is almost always somewhere remote.

If a potential buyer offers to visit and test-drive it, suddenly there’s “another offer” and the car isn’t for sale anymore, or it’s “already crated and ready for shipping.”

And what if you discover that you’ve been “trying to sell” a beautiful vehicle at a fraction of its blue-book value?

Fortunately, said a representative from OSI, it’s usually not an actual case of identity theft, just theft of your name. Scammers use web-based email addresses, like Gmail, to do the transactions; they’re not hacking email accounts. They don’t need a person’s social security number, address or any other information – just his or her name and reputation as a service member – to get their money and disappear.

Most times, the ad states that “for your protection” the money will go to an escrow account with eBay until buyer and seller are both satisfied, officials said. But eBay and Craigslist have nothing to do with each other. Just like Toyota won’t repair your Ford, eBay won’t broker money for Craigslist.

Airmen who find that someone has used their name in connection with the scam should report it to local authorities as well as to and OSI also recommends Airmen inform their chain of command. Some potential victims think that service members are the scammers, so their command should know what happened as soon as possible.

Airmen can also file reports with the FBI, and it’s never a bad idea to have a fraud alert on your bank account and credit cards, officials said.

Craigslist and eBay both have prominent disclaimers reminding people not to use Western Union or MoneyGram for purchases, since once the money is sent, it’s gone, with no recourse for the sender. While those services might be good for sending money to a relative or friend, they’re also often used by scam artists.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Growing rock at Little Rock

By Chief Master Sgt. Jesse Stirling
314th Airlift Wing command chief master sergeant

In geology, rock is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals. In simpler terms, it takes a collection of bits and pieces to grow rock. Every element plays a critical role in the process and it still takes nature centuries to fully mature rock. Team Little Rock completes the same task in a fraction of that time. How is this possible?

How can a collection of people with such diverse backgrounds, working in three separate wings accomplish what Mother Nature takes generations to do? The answer to this question was clear from the first day of my assignment as TLR’s newest command chief. It started with the professional welcome we received from 19th Security Forces Squadron personnel at the main gate, continued with a courteous check-in from the folks at billeting and warm greetings from 314th leadership, followed shortly thereafter with an immersion brief from the 189th Airlift Wing.

Truth be told, in the first few days here, my wife and I received scores of briefings and met so many people that remembering what wing they represented was difficult. It was at this point that Kay and I realized Little Rock is a very special place. Our three wings work as one complete entity, supporting each other in the missions TLR is charged to accomplish. As in nature, our bits and pieces work together to create a solid aggregate … but we do it faster!

I join a fantastic duo of Command Chiefs dedicated to your success. Alongside Chief Master Sgts. Jim Morris and Gary Wynn, I work for you. Our collective goal is to ensure you have everything you need to be successful, whether it’s training, equipment or support programs for you and your families. You are our mission, and we take that mission seriously.

Kay and I are excited to be part of the team.

We have met many of you already and look forward to meeting all of you. Thank you for a very gracious welcome, allowing us to be part of your rock, and all you do every single day.

TOP STORY > >Life on the binge

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A night of, raucous partying, patchy memories, flaunting cash, empty bottles stacked up like trophies, no recollection of a beginning, middle or end, verbose bravado, delusions of grandeur, spastic drunk-dialing, bursts of emotion, enthusiastic sentimentality toward those they like, vitriolic disdain toward those they dislike, drinking games, shots, mixed drinks, beer bongs, the binge drinker lives for nights like these.

The morning after, stomach pain, nausea, cutting headaches, violent-vomiting, dysentery, dry mouth, indigestion, dehydration, dry heaving, physical agony, missing money from their wallet, a torrent of charges on their cards, inappropriate voicemails and text messages sent out in droves, bruises, cuts, scrapes from toppling to the concrete, perhaps a fight, perhaps an embarrassing display of sentimentality, social delinquency, perhaps they don’t mind the physical repercussions because their friends admire their alcoholic-fortitude, but perhaps they’re oblivious to the social anathema they’ve become or the physical repercussions of their behavior.

Most Airmen are acquainted with the Air Force’s mantras against driving under the influence and drinking underage. Moreover, many Airmen are familiar with the consequences of such actions. Yet, often lost amidst the discussion of preventative measures for DUIs and aiding in the delinquency of a minor are the social, physical and professional hazards of binge drinking.

According to a 2009 study released by the University of Minnesota and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention titled “Binge drinking in the military,” 43 percent of more than 16,000 military members polled admitted to binge drinking during the past month.

In an article published on the first author of the study remarked about the significance of these results.

“Our study clearly shows that binge drinking is a significant public health problem in the military, which is dangerous to both the drinkers and to those around them,” said Mandy Stahre, Master of Public Health, a doctoral candidate in alcohol epidemiology. “It also underscores the importance of implementing effective strategies to prevent underage and binge drinking, such as maintaining and enforcing the age 21 minimum legal drinking age.”

From the standpoint of Master Sgt. Nichole Reynolds, the 19th Medical Operations Squadron certified drug and alcohol counselor flight chief, there is no fool-proof way of determining just how much of the base population binge drinks, but thinks that the majority of the problems rests with a negative perception stemming from alcohol-related incidents.

“I think we have a perception that there’s a lot of binge drinking on base,” she said. “It’s always the few that get in trouble that get the most attention. A lot of the 18-24-year-olds may think that everyone else is doing it, but unfortunately we don’t have a way of knowing all of the binge drinking problems except for our patients, I think it’s a case of most people doing the right thing, but the people getting in trouble changing the perception.”

Reynolds said the Air Force defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks per occasion for males, and three or more drinks per sitting for females. However, number or drinks consumed is not the sole indicator of being on a binge.

“Basically, if you’re drinking with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated by heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time, that’s a binge,” she said.

Going on a binge is a problem, Reynolds said. It’s a problem that people often live in denial about by rationalizing or bargaining with themselves or others.

“A lot of people we talk to are asked to define what they think an alcohol problem is,” she said. “I’ve found that people often fit that definition with what doesn’t include their drinking habits. I always tell people that even if you only drink once a year, but you intentionally drink to the point of intoxication and it causes a problem, then you have a drinking problem.”

The CDAC flight chief said a lot of patients make concessions or excuses for themselves because they want to avoid being labeled or associated with the stigma of “having a problem.”

“A lot of people don’t want to be given that label, but the majority of the people we see in here are commander-directed,” she said. “Not many people want to self-refer, and I a lot of that has to do with the perception that they don’t have a problem or don’t want the stigma.”

It’s always better to self-refer than be commander-referred to programs, Reynolds said. People that think they have a problem shouldn’t be afraid to self-refer.

“People have a lot of complicated feelings over self-referring,” she said. “It’s a lot better than being commander-referred or getting in a bad incident.”

Binge drinking comes with a massive amount of health risks, Reynolds said. Problems that mass-drinking can cause include mental and respiratory problems and the typical physical ailments such as vomiting, but can also shorten a person’s life-span by 15 years.

“The physical danger is that after three drinks your judgment is impaired,” she said. “After four drinks your coordination is impaired and you may put yourself in bad situations where you can get hurt. Alcohol is the one drug that affects every single system in your body, and there’s a laundry list of problems it can cause.”

Aside from the typical post-binge reactions such as headaches, nausea and vomiting, binge drinking can cause more severe physical damage such as damaging the liver and several types of cancer, Reynolds said.

“People who drink more than three drinks per day have an almost tenfold higher risk of esophageal cancer than do those who drink less than one drink per day,” the flight chief said.

Even though people get routinely educated about the dangers of excessive drinking, they’re still reticent to self-identify their problem, Reynolds said. The admission of having a problem may cause some people to feel they’re being labeled.

“Sometimes I do have people that are considering coming to talk to me,” she said. “They’ll come in and the questions they ask are: Will I be put on a profile? Will I not be able to deploy? What is my commander going to think about me? … They think their chain is going to look down on them if they admit they have a problem. They think that it’ll be looked at as a sign of weakness.”

Fears about being stereotyped as a weak person by their chain-of-command are unfounded, said Reynolds. In her experience, most commanders and chains-of-command appreciate the self-responsibility involved in identifying and voluntarily tackling a personal problem.

“I always tell people in that situation we’ve had patients referred to us that have actually gotten into alcohol related incidents,” she said. “(They) made bad decisions while under the influence, and the commanders are very supportive … having them get the help that they need. Our job is not to kick people out; it’s to help people become fully functioning members of the Air Force again. So if the commanders are going to be supportive of somebody who actually had an alcohol-related incident, then they’re going to be even more supportive of someone who didn’t wait until they had an incident … I think the Air Force is very supportive of that.”

Reynolds said that self-referring is a good step for a person who recognizes they have a problem, but not the only one. There are numerous paths to recovery available, and members should be encouraged to seek out which one fits their sensibilities the best.

“If someone thinks they have a problem with alcohol, I recommend going to AA meetings and trying to quit, not just cut back, if you don’t want to self-refer,” she said. “If you realize you can’t do it on your own, come to ADAPT and we’ll work with you to get you in the right level of treatment. We’re not here to try and trick anyone into something. We will be very open and honest and happy to answer any questions. Our primary mission is to help people become a fully functioning member of the Air Force.”

TOP STORY > >Program reduces disability-benefits waiting period after separation

By Eric M. Grill
Air Force Personnel, Service and Manpower Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) – Air Force officials held a training conference recently to teach those operating the Integrated Disability Evaluation System how to process service members who, because of medical conditions, may no longer be able to serve in the Air Force.

The conference, held jointly between the Air Force Personnel Center and the Air Force Medical Operations Agency, was attended by more than 250 base-level physical evaluation board liaison officers, who guide service members through the disability evaluation system, and medical physicians, who recommend service members for the disability evaluation process.

The Integrated Disability Evaluation System combines the military services’ disability evaluation and that of the Department of Veterans Affairs benefits claims processes into a streamlined process to minimize the gap between service separation and VA benefits delivery. The program was introduced in 2007 as a pilot program at three military bases and steadily expanded to full Defense Department-wide implementation at the end of September.

The IDES provides a more seamless transition to veteran disability benefits with more consistent ratings between DOD and VA than the previous system, said Lt. Col. Lorianne Hodge, the Air Force Personnel Center’s Air Force Physical Disability Division deputy division chief.

“Physical evaluation board liaison officers are the ‘boots on the ground’ responsible for compiling and routing all case paperwork and are the primary point of contacts for Airmen as they go through the process,” Hodge said.

“Equally important are the physicians who make the determination that an Airman must be considered for potential separation or retirement.”

The main goal of the training conference was to arm the PEBLOS and providers with the information and tools to process the member through the disability system effectively and succinctly, said Maj. Teresa Clark, the Air Force Medical Operations Agency health benefit analyst and IDES program manager.

Under the previous Disability Evaluation System, Clark said, the processing time was significantly longer. This included a set of medical examinations by military physicians, a series of boards to determine if the member was still able to serve, and if not, assignment of a disability rating used by the Defense Department to calculate disability disposition. Service members could not begin to apply for disability compensation and benefits from VA until after receiving a dischargedate from their service.

With the new IDES, she said, “there is only one set of medical exams, performed to the Veteran’s Affairs standards, which provides medical information needed by both departments.”

The VA issues disability ratings that will immediately be used for veterans’ compensation and benefits once the service member is no longer active duty.

The integrated process still takes a little more than nine months, Hodge said, but now when the service member is finished with the military process, a disability claim is already filed with the VA so veteran disability compensation and benefits can begin after one month in veteran status. That is the earliest allowable under current law.

“Conferences like this provide for an open, candid forum to exchange input with the field on how the (IDES) process is operating and to foster ideas on how the system can be improved,” said Bret Stevens, the DOD’s director of transition policy for the office of wounded warrior care and transition policy. “It’s also an opportunity for conference attendees to receive an update of where the program is currently at and for me personally to get an insight from those who work closely with the individuals who are transitioning through the process.

The people who attended this conference “are truly committed to providing a program that meets both the individuals’ and services’ needs,” Stevens said.