Texas Medical Command strives for speedy health assessments

Texas Medical Command strives for speedy health assessments

Story by: Sgt. Josiah Pugh

Posted On: February 8, 2016

Sgt. Josiah Pugh A medic processes recently drawn blood as part of a required periodic health assessment at the Texas Medical Command clinic at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. This assessment measures a number of aspects of a Soldier’s health including laboratory work, hearing, vision and dental. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh/Released)
Sgt. Josiah Pugh
A medic processes recently drawn blood as part of a required periodic health assessment at the Texas Medical Command clinic at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. This assessment measures a number of aspects of a Soldier’s health including laboratory work, hearing, vision and dental. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Josiah Pugh/Released)

AUSTIN, Texas - Keeping Texas Guardsmen healthy and mission-ready is a full-time job. The troops at Camp Mabry's Texas Medical Command understand the importance of efficiency and cooperation, especially when it comes time to process whole units through their clinic.

On drill weekends, the Soldiers at the Texas Medical Command can be found at the medical clinic at Camp Mabry helping troops from other units complete their required annual periodic health assessments. This assessment measures a number of aspects of a Soldier’s health including laboratory work, hearing, vision and dental.

The staff at the clinic can be stretched thin at times, with many of them frequently offsite supporting the medical needs of various unit missions around Texas. The staff can dwindle to as few as ten in number and the patients in need of processing can reach as many as 100 - all of whom will complete the health assessment in a single day.

“We can be here pretty late,” says clinic Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge Sgt. 1st Class Evangelina Garcia.

Despite all the preparation these medical staff undergo, often it’s the patients they see who hold up the line. The entire process can be as quick as a couple of hours or stretch out to last an entire day. Garcia says the number one reason why lines get backed up is when patients drop in without first going through their command. 

“They have to schedule through their medical readiness NCO, get them on our schedule and do their online portion and things will go a lot smoother,” she explains.

The clinic sees its fair share of patients over 40 years of age who must fast overnight to accurately test their blood glucose levels. Sometimes patients will not follow the rules closely and drink caffeinated energy drinks or coffee the morning before their blood drawl. This skews the results and can negatively reflect on the individual’s medical record or require blood to be drawn again on another day.

“Even a healthy person can be flagged, which can go on your record,” said Sgt. Jennifer Hess, a medic with the TMC.

Another common issue the clinic sees is often patients will not bring proof of getting an influenza vaccination through their civilian doctors. When they come to the clinic and MEDPROS lists them as not having the vaccination, they will be required to get a second shot.

Frequently, patients who wear contacts will fail to bring their prescribed eyeglasses. The clinic needs to test eyesight with and without glasses. If a patient does not bring their glasses, the physical health assessment cannot be properly completed. 

Aside from having all your paperwork ready when you come in, Garcia says, “be flexible. The biggest thing is you have to be flexible.” 

When asked how they get all of their patients’ assessments finished as quickly as possible, Hess said, “We work really well as a team – as an entire unit. We try our best to get people in and out. We’re a great team. Everyone pitches in and does their part.” 

Properly scheduling periodic health assessments and preparing for a visit to the clinic can help the entire process flow smoothly and keep troops deployment ready.

From Texas cop to best warrior

From Texas cop to best warrior

Story by: Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed

Posted On: February 8, 2016

Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed Steven Hein, a police officer with the Richardsone Police Department in Richardson, Texas, inspects his vehicle prior to a patrol in Richardson, Texas, Jan. 28, 2016. Hein will be a two-time competitor at the 2016 Best Warrior Competition. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed/ Released)
Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed
Steven Hein, a police officer with the Richardson Police Department in Richardson, Texas, inspects his vehicle prior to a patrol in Richardson, Texas, Jan. 28, 2016. Hein will be a two-time competitor at the 2016 Best Warrior Competition. (Texas Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed/ Released)

BASTROP, Texas. – “And the Winner is…,” the announcer paused.

Most remember saying, “when I grow up,” as a kid, but few will remember what career they loved at the time and fewer reach their childhood dream; U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Hein is one of the few.

“I was like 8 or 9-years old and my dad was walking around with a video camera, videotaping all us kids and interviewing us. I was in the backyard shooting a BB gun of all things. I was shooting tin cans when he asked me, ’what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I said, ‘well I want to be on SWAT. I want to be a cop and be on SWAT,” said Hein.

Hein followed through with his dream and became a police officer with the Richardson Police Department in Richardson, Texas. He also became a training noncommissioned officer assigned to the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas.

He enjoys setting goals and overcoming challenges. His latest challenge is a second attempt at taking home first place in the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition.

“It’s pretty impressive to make it twice in a row because he competed against all the guys in his wing and beat them out a second time to get here.” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Shane Ruppel, Texas Army National Guard, the BWC event noncommissioned officer in charge.

The BWC is an annual event that tests the aptitude of elite Texas Air and Army National Guardsmen during three days of physically and mentally grueling events. The events are meant to test the member’s endurance, marksmanship, land navigation skills and professionalism. This year, guard members were also joined by Army reservist and Chilean military members.

“I figured I’d give it another try,” said Hein. “It was a good experience; it’s fun. You get to meet some new people, experience new things and learn some new stuff.”

His road to police work began in 2007, when he joined the U.S. Air Force as a security forces member. His first and only active duty assignment was with the 90th Security Forces Squadron, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, where he was a gate guard and patrolman for two years before becoming a member of the elite Tactical Response Force. 

“We were dual mission,” said Hein. “We had nuclear recapture and recovery and we were also the base EST team, or SWAT team.”

The training he received during his time with the Tactical Response Force directly contributed to his success in both his civilian and military law enforcement careers said Hein. It also prepared him for many of the tasks he faced during his first run at BWC. He hopes that the training comes back just as naturally during his second trip here.

The little boy grew up and became a cop, times two. He works long hours to help protect the city of Richardson and trained hard to represent his squadron at the BWC for a second time and through all that he remains humble.

“I’m not the best, I’m not the strongest, I’m not the fastest and I’m definitely not the smartest, but I do give 100 percent to everything I do,” said Hein. “I get that from my dad, he always had the no quit mentality.”

The 2016 BWC is over. The competitors stood before a board, wrote an essay, completed a land navigation course in below-freezing temperatures, rucked eight miles, assembled, disassembled and fired a variety of weapons, ran an obstacle course and faced the mystery event.

The announcer continued, “The top NCO for the Texas Air National Guard, from the 136th Security Forces Squadron is Staff Sergeant Steven Hein.” 

“I didn’t think I did that well, but I gave it all I’ve got,” concluded Hein.

Chilean forces compete in Texas Guard Best Warrior Competition

Chilean forces compete in Texas Guard Best Warrior Competition

Story by: Sgt. Adrian Shelton

Posted On: February 8, 2016

Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert Pfc. Marcial Ortiz, Chilean navy, competes in the obstacle course portion of the Texas Military Department's 2016 Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. Traditionally a joint competition with competitors from the Texas Army and Air National Guards, this year's event invited service members from the U.S. Army Reserves component and the Chilean military to compete in the three-day grueling competition, testing the aptitude of each competitor in several mentally and physically challenging events relevant in today's operational environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/Released)
Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert
Pfc. Marcial Ortiz, Chilean navy, competes in the obstacle course portion of the Texas Military Department's 2016 Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 6, 2016. Traditionally a joint competition with competitors from the Texas Army and Air National Guards, this year's event invited service members from the U.S. Army Reserves component and the Chilean military to compete in the three-day grueling competition, testing the aptitude of each competitor in several mentally and physically challenging events relevant in today's operational environment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/Released)

BASTROP, Texas – Troops from the Chilean Marine Corps and Chilean Army reinforced their continuing partnership with the Texas Army and Air National Guard during the state's Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 4-7, 2016.

Although Texas has highlighted a joint Best Warrior Competition for several years, combining warriors from both the Texas Army and Texas Air National Guards, this was the first year the competition went international.

Chilean service members were selected to represent their country in the competition based on top performances in areas such as marksmanship and physical fitness. 

"As soon as I got the notification that I was selected for the competition, I started looking at the tasks required in the competition on YouTube," said 2nd Cpl. Jesus Vasquez, Special Operations Brigade, Chilean Marine Corps. "I thought it was an awesome competition.”

"This event was like a wedding and we planned it," said Texas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Alfonso Garcia, the State Partnership Program noncommissioned officer in charge of the Texas-Chile program. "We set up the logistics and the agendas and had everything all laid out, so when the Chileans came here everything flowed seamlessly."

The Chilean troops only had two days to learn the things that were different for them, such as certain weapons and communications equipment said Garcia. 

"Our National Guard sponsors had a big part in helping us to prepare," Vasquez said. "The security measures in place for events like weapons qualification were very efficient and very safe. We learned alongside the National Guard troops and built a good relationship."

Garcia and other Guardsmen helped translate for the Chileans throughout the long weekend. 

The Chileans found the week's events provided not only an opportunity to compete, but also presented them with unique challenges. 

"It wasn’t always easy for us to communicate because of cultural and phonetic differences," said Chilean army Sgt. Maj. Juan Gonzalez, who sponsored the Chilean soldiers in the competition. "But the Guard had good translators and a lot of the Guardsmen spoke Spanish and made it easier for us to learn the scenarios during the competition."

The Chilean troops experienced some physical challenges as well and noted the geographic differences between Chile and Texas.

"In Chile, with its very high and low temperatures and differing elevations, we train differently on our land navigation courses," Chilean Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Guillermo Zepeda, the sponsor for the Chilean Marine competitors. "The points on the land navigation course are not consistent and change with the terrain, and our terrain and woodlands are more dense and not as flat."

"The height of some of the obstacles on the obstacle course was challenging because we are typically short people," Vasquez said. "The obstacle course looks more well-rounded for taller soldiers. "

Despite this extra challenge, Staff Sgt. Cristobal Inostroza, Chilean Marine Corps, finished first in the obstacle course with one of the fastest times ever seen in the history of this competition. He also placed first in the road march.

During the road march, Vasquez and Gonzalez ran the entire march with their troops because they wanted their troops to know he and Gonzalez were there to support them said Vasquez. 

Vasquez and Gonzalez are planning to take their experience from the Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition home with them and do something similar in Chile.

"We looked at all of this as a model for our own best warrior competition we're planning to have next year," Gonzalez said. 

Texas Guardsmen might even have the chance to compete against their Chilean partners again.

"I would like for more Texas National Guard service members to participate in our best warrior competition next time," Vasquez said. "It would only be the right thing to do in return for them inviting us here."

At the end of the competition, who placed first didn’t appear to be nearly as important as new relationships forged and the camaraderie between the partner forces strengthened.

"What we realized as we work together to do competitions like this, is we all do the same thing and train the same, we're just in different color uniforms," said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Weedon, senior enlisted advisor of the Texas Military Department. "Chile is our South American partner, through our State Partnership Program, and we train together throughout the year. So this is the culmination of that relationship going to the next level."

Texas Chief reaches the top

Commentary by Capt. Martha Nigrelle

It takes a lot to reach the top in any career field, and that was no different for Texas Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer William Langford.

After 37 years of service, Langford was promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5, the highest rank in the Warrant Officer Corps, in a ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, Dec. 5, 2015.

After 37 years of service, Langford was promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5, the highest rank in the Warrant Officer Corps, in a ceremony at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, Dec. 5, 2015“There are only 300 CW5’s in the Army National Guard and most of them are in Aviation,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Earnest Metcalf, Command Chief Warrant Officer, noting the significance of the achievement.

“A non aviation warrant officer making CW5 is kind of monumental,” said Maj. Robert Cederstrom, Joint Forces Headquarters Detachment commander

There are 350,000 soldiers currently serving in the Army National Guard making chief warrant officer 5’s, .08% of the force, and the majority of those slots are reserved for pilots.

“Warrant Officers are technical advisors to all of the commands,” said Metcalf. “We’re systems folks, we operate Army systems.”

Langford, a personnel warrant officer, is no stranger to the Army administrative systems.

As the chief warrant officer and executive officer for the Joint Force Headquarters, Langford’s main focus is on the readiness of the more than 400 soldiers assigned to the unit said Metcalf. Ensuring the readiness of the force is necessary

A job many in the unit know Langford is persistent on.

“Everyone knows Mr. Langford,” said Cederstrom. “The majority of the force has felt the presence of Mr. Langford or his emails.”

For the newly pinned Chief Warrant Officer 5, the promotion was significant.

“This is very humbling,” said Langford. “I’m very honored.”

As much as he was honored, Langford said it wasn’t about him – everything he did was about the soldiers.

“All I’m trying to do is help you.”

Texas Guardsmen Mentor High School Competitors to First Place

Texas Guardsmen Mentor High School Competitors to First Place

Story by: Maj. Ray McCulloch

Posted On: February 3, 2016

Courtesy Photo From 71st TC
Courtesy Photo From 71st TC

CEDAR PARK, Texas - Texas Guardsmen from the 71st Theater Information Operations Group mentored students from Leander High School as they competed in the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot VIII competition, November 14-15, 2016 and December 4-6, 2016, at Corvalent’s office complex in Cedar Park, Texas. The Vista Ridge Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets vied against other United States and Department of Defense Education Activity high school students from around the globe for placement in the Platinum tier, which puts them on track to compete at the national level. The Vista Ridge team competed on multiple platforms – 1) Cisco, 2) a Windows Server, 3) a Windows workstation and 4) a Linux system.

Cyber Patriot is a national youth cyber education program. CyberPatriot was conceived by the AFA and works to inspire high school students towards careers in cyber security or other science, technology, engineering, or mathematics disciplines.

According to the CyberPatriot website, “At the center of CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. High school and middle school students work in teams and play the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. Teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services.”

“This opportunity is in a very technical field, and it requires [Information Technology] mentors,” said retired Cmdr. Rick Hamblet, the Vista Ridge Navy JROTC senior naval science instructor.

Only four of his 130 cadets were able to compete in the competition.

To help prepare these students, Maj. Tim Amerson, Sgt. 1st Class James Medlock and Sgt. 1st Class Jon Wachter, all of the 102nd Information Operations Battalion, 71st Tactical Information Operations Group volunteered to help.

Amerson serves as the Web Operations Security Team Chief in the 102nd Information Operations Battalion.

“We are the Technical Mentors for the Vista Ridge HS Naval [JROTC],” said Amerson. “We volunteer our own time teaching students how to be Cyber Network Defenders.”

Using their military experience, they helped prepare the cadets for this challenging competition.

In addition to the military members of the 102nd Information Operations Battalion., Ed Trevis, President and CEO of Corvalent, wanted to help. Corvalent produces ruggedized industrial computers. Corvalent partnered with Cdr. Hamblet and Vista Ridge for the CyberPatriot competition. Corvalent provided the location, computers, and network for the VR team.

“We at Corvalent wanted to make sure we invested in the future of our military and leaders,” said Ed. “They are the reason we are able to do what we do here.”

On November 14th, during Round 1 of the competition, the four juniors on the team had six hours to find as many security loopholes, breaches, or backdoors as possible in order to secure their computer images. With a max score of 200, the team garnered 190 points. On Dec. 6th, during Round 2, they had to repeat their success on three images, and complete a quiz. This time the team earned an unofficial score of 272, and 33 points - the maximum amount - for the Cisco quiz. Their combined scores placed them in first place for all Texas Navy JROTC teams, seventh in the nation among all Navy JROTC teams, and sixteenth out of 820 teams nationally.

"I can say we couldn't be more grateful. I feel like so far the National Guard and their participation in the program has been instrumental to how far we have gotten. So we really appreciate it,” said Mason Buettner, student team lead for Vista Ridge Navy JROTC’s CyberPatriot team.

147th Reconnaissance Wing hosts ANG Command Chief

147th Reconnaissance Wing hosts ANG Command Chief

Story by: Tech. Sgt. Shawn McCowan
147 Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

Posted On: February 2nd, 2016

Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard James W. Hotaling spent time talking with 147th Reconnaissance Wing enlisted members at Ellington Field JRB in Houston, January 30, 2016. Hotaling talked about commitment to the profession of arms, health of the force, recognizing our accomplishments and finished the enlisted all call by answering questions from the airmen.
Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air National Guard James W. Hotaling spent time talking with 147th Reconnaissance Wing enlisted members at Ellington Field JRB in Houston, January 30, 2016. Hotaling talked about commitment to the profession of arms, health of the force, recognizing our accomplishments and finished the enlisted all call by answering questions from the airmen.

ELLINGTON FIELD, Texas - In one of his final visits of his career, the Air National Guard Command Chief spent two days with members of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing at Ellington Field January 30-31.

Chief Master Sgt. James W. Hotaling made it a priority during his visit to speak with 147th Reconnaissance Wing's junior enlisted Airmen during an enlisted all call. Airmen were given the opportunity to interact with Chief Hotaling and ask him any questions they had about the Air Force and the Air National Guard. Hotaling discussed his key focus areas that include the renewing of the commitment to the profession of arms, the health of the force, and recognizing and embracing the accomplishments of Airmen.

During the all call, Airmen candidly presented issues important to them. Hotaling expressed the importance of making sure Airmen are part of any solution they hope to see.

"I see two kinds of people when there is an issue at hand, victims and victors. I want you to have a victor mentality when tackling your challenges," said Hotaling.

Chief Hotaling also spoke on renewing he commitment to the profession of arms, focus on performance and training, and education requirements. His presentation of the profession of arms included  mentorship and supervision as well as the deliberate development of Airmen.

Other topics included the health of the force, resiliency, and the four pillars of an Airman's life, which included mental, physical, social, and spiritual aspects. As part of the health of the force, Hotaling discussed the importance of sexual assault prevention and response.

Hotaling also took time to recognize Airmen accomplishments during the all call, telling the audience that recognizing Airmen both informally and formally is important.

Hotaling said he was very impressed with the wing, both as a whole and its individuals.

"I have visited all 90 Air National Guard units, and I can tell you that the 147th is a great wing. Morale is high here, and there is a real sense of camaraderie."

As Hotaling prepares for retirement, he hopes all Airmen focus on their "here and now," doing their best work where they are.

"If each of us do our very best today, while planning for tomorrow, the future will take care of itself. I really believe that."