Maximizing the performance of the Human Weapon System

  • Published
  • By Col. Patrick L Dawson
  • Commander, 55th Medical Group
There's the UCI, NSSAV and ORE. And, don't forget the NSI.

Recently the 55th Wing underwent and successfully passed a unit compliance inspection. In late October, the wing hosted a nuclear surety staff assistance visit. In December, the wing plans an operational readiness exercise in preparation for an eventual inspection. In 2011, we'll undergo a nuclear surety inspection to highlight our compliance with all components of our personnel reliability program.

The Air Force consistently inspects our programs to ensure we're complying with the minimal standards of functioning. Yet, our Airmen remain our most important weapon system. How often do we consider inspecting ourselves to ensure we're complying with standards? Better yet, how do we ensure we're not just complying minimally, but functioning at our peak; our maximal performance?

The 55th Medical Group challenges you to do that today.

Maximal performance insists that we not only focus on the obvious; our physical health. It also insists on the other areas foundational to health; social, emotional, psychological and spiritual health.

The 55th MDG covers each of these functions through a full spectrum of healthcare services. We encourage each of you to examine these areas and discuss them at a few upcoming events such as Wingman Day.

First, physical health can be improved by preventive programs such as good nutrition, fitness and regular health check-ups. Offutt's Health and Wellness Center offers nutritional classes and information to assist with better eating habits, exercise regimes and resources to assist you to stop smoking. Consider measuring yourself in the HAWC's Bod-Pod to assess your level of body mass index.

Within our primary care clinics, our family health clinic recently transformed to the family health initiative model of medicine promoting continuity of care between you and your provider. By adopting this model, we established a two-provider team responsible for your routine health care. Only your provider or the provider's assigned colleague will see you in future appointments. To maximize your physical health, we recommend maintaining both preventive care as well as routine care.

If you find yourself ill after hours, contact our 24/7 nurse triage line at 232-CARE (232-2273). They'll discuss your symptoms and potentially direct you to the closest urgent care clinic to your specific residence or location. Of course, anytime you feel life, limb or eyesight is endangered, you should always go directly to your closest ER without delay.
For our assigned PRP members, our new PRP clinic is located at the entrance of our facility and realigned with your team of providers to streamline your care. And for our retiree population, we enjoyed seeing you at Offutt's Retiree Appreciation Day earlier this month.

Second, the other areas of health should also be addressed. The 55th MDG partners with many community agencies, such as the chaplain service and the airmen and family readiness center.

This activity supports the base's very robust integrated delivery system. This partnership provides you with many potential support programs including: a prevention and relationship enhancement program for couples, anger management, Parent University, healthy thinking, marital retreats and key spouse programs. We also have programs targeting families who face pre- and post-deployment situations. These programs address family separations, challenges or difficulties experienced during and after combat or deployment zones, and marital and parenting dynamics. We also sponsor many activities directed toward the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and the reduction of drunk driving offenses.

Additionally, the 55th MDG conducts pre- and post- deployment airmen resiliency training. This is aimed at enhancing the resiliency and peak performance of Airmen, to strengthen mind, body and spirit using a skills-based approach.

One major upcoming event is 55th WG's Wingman Day Nov. 12. The medical group will enthusiastically promote activities which focus on enhancing the military family and your team.

In order to maximize teamwork and unit production, we must ensure each of our teammates is functioning at top-notch levels. This includes ensuring sleep, concentration, appetite and mood remain consistent. Stress -- which can be good as exemplified by a wedding or birth of a child, or bad as exemplified by financial difficulties or disciplinary problems -- both impact performance. We need to learn and recognize one another's baseline performance to note any deviances. When we change dramatically, we are likely experiencing stress which can ultimately lead to reduced performance.

Look for a variety of events, or request something specific that will help identify members who are struggling and may need assistance to return to normal levels of functioning through your unit's 2010 Wingman Day representative.

Too often, Airmen suffer depression which can lead to substance abuse and impulsivity. This deadly combination may drive some to consider or act upon suicidal or homicidal thoughts. Our Air Force can't afford the loss of even one individual. As Wingmen, we must look out for and reach out to one another in these times of need. By coming together, we ensure our social, emotional, spiritual and psychological functioning stays in peak performance mode.

As you review your personal inventory, consider calling or visiting the medical group to learn more about these and other programs. Our prevention teams located in the HAWC as well as the mental health flight are standing by -- ready to help you and your fellow Airmen. Remember, the human weapon system is the most important entity in our Air Force. We look forward to seeing you!