JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC –
After our 628th Wing Commander's Call last week, we captured a number of themes from the questions you asked via the smartphone app we used. We compiled those into the questions that follow, and I asked the subject matter experts across the wing to compile some brief answers. Our leadership team wanted to share those responses with you.
Q1) How are decisions made about which units get First Sergeants?
A1) First Sergeant 101210 AF Manpower Standard lists the manpower matrix that determines if a unit earns a First Sergeant. This was recently revised 18 September 2015 with some significant changes. Across JB CHS some units no longer earned a first sergeant according to the manpower standard. However, we were able to combine squadrons with the end result of no loss of first sergeant billets assigned to JBC.
If a unit earns a first sergeant there are several factors considered when assigning a First Sergeant to a unit.
- How long have they been a first sergeant? We typically send brand new first sergeants to a smaller unit to gain experience before sending them to a larger unit.
- What unit has the greatest need? Each unit is assigned a priority based mainly on overall members assigned. The 628th and 437th Command Chiefs reviewed and validated the priorities.
- We try not to assign a First Sergeant to a unit for which they have an AFSC. For example we typically won't send a SNCO with a 3P AFSC back to the SF squadron.
- Additionally, based on personality of the First Sergeant, Commander, Chief and unit the CCM tries to assign the First Sergeant that would be the best fit for that unit.
- Timing of when we have inbound First Sergeants is also a factor.
Q2) What mental health support is available for our civilians?
A2) Services through the Military & Family Life Counselor (MFLC) are available if the civilian is a dependent of a military member. We have MFLC's that specialize in school-age youth, children, and adults. Those in need of an MFLC can contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 843-963-4406 or the Navy Fleet and Family Center at 843-794-7480.
GS employees in crisis can be escorted to the Mental Health Clinic (MHC) for a risk assessment and disposition. Referral can then be made to off base care within the network of their health insurance. The bottom line is that Mental Health sees any patient who presents themselves to the clinic; they do not turn any patient away until an evaluation has been made.
When there is a suspicion of a substance use problem, GS employees may voluntarily participate in a full assessment in ADAPT to determine diagnosis and level of care. We will assist in finding a treatment facility and make the phone call to get them connected.
Although these services are not available to contract personnel we will consult with their supervisor or commander and make recommendations in situations where there is imminent risk of harm to self or others.
Q3) What additional arming policies are being considered at JB CHS?
A3) SFS has instituted weekly arming of select back office staff personnel as a force protection random antiterrorism measure. The Mission Assurance Working Group (MAWG) is reviewing options for isolated facilities to request open carry arming of M9 under the unit marshal program. The MAWG is also reviewing concealed arming with privately owned firearms for off-duty security forces members assigned to JB CHS under authority of LEOSA. Additionally, SFS investigators are arming up daily with an open carry M9 while on-duty.
Q4) What is the status of risk mitigation efforts at our crosswalks?
A4) The Base Traffic Safety Engineering Coordination Group (BTSECG or Base Traffic Council) is constantly evaluating our crosswalks to ensure the safety of our pedestrians. The Base Traffic Council meets regularly and prior to their meetings, they do a drive-around on the joint base evaluating any potential problem areas. For crosswalks in particular, they look for proper painting/striping, lighting where appropriate, visibility limitations due to trees/blind spots, and other factors. When there is a troublesome location, they can install mitigating measures, such as traffic safety bollards (reflective stanchions) in the middle of the crosswalk. Most recently, they worked with the Medical Group facility manager, as well as our Civil Engineers, to install mitigating measures at two crosswalks on Arthur Drive. If you have any concerns about crosswalks or any input for our Base Traffic Council, please contact Lt Col Ralph "E.T." Taylor at 963-2200 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Q5) What is the status of projects to repair the playgrounds on the AB?
A5) There are two playground projects underway right now on the Air Base (including Hunley Park). The playground near the Youth Center (ADA compliant) is under repairs and will be complete in the May/June 2016 timeframe. There is a new playground going in just south of the Forest City (FC) Community Center (project sponsored by FC) which will be complete in the Mar/Apr timeframe. As a part of this same project, FC will be refurbishing the flooring of the Hunley Park playground...also to be completed in the Mar/Apr timeframe. The playground off Touhey Blvd is going to get some resurfacing work done and that project is set to be completed by the end of March.
Q6) Where can I go to learn more about Palmetto Scholars Academy and other local school options?
A6) JB Charleston employs a full-time School Liaison Officer (SLO) that can assist families with understanding their school options and help them work through school-related issues. Our SLO is Ms. Sharon Gardner who can be contacted at (843) 963-4438. Palmetto Scholars Academy on the Air Base officially opened this month, Feb 2016. It is a school for grades 6-12 with a maximum population of 504 students. Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year lottery, there is a 20 percent "set-aside" for children of military members stationed at JB Charleston. More information on PSA can be found at www.palmettoscholarsacademy.org or you can always contact the SLO.
Q7) Is there a plan to renovate locker rooms in the base gyms?
A7) Projects have been submitted and prioritized for the locker rooms at both the AB & WS Fitness Centers. The scope of these projects includes replacing the showers, improving ventilation, and repairing the epoxy floors in the locker rooms. The WS Fitness renovation is a $57K project that is currently prioritized as #14 on the FY16 Sustainment, Repair, and Maintenance (SR&M) list. The AB Fitness repair is a $90K project that is currently prioritized as #43 on the FY17 SR&M list. We hope to have them funded in their projected fiscal years, 16 and 17.
Q8) Is there a plan to put WiFi in the gyms?
A8) FSS is researching WiFi solutions for the Fitness Centers on both the AB & WS. They are working through the logistics of adding these facilities into the existing E2 network (a connection separate from the AF NIPRnet and specifically designed for FSS/MWR activities). WiFi in all three JB fitness centers is a definite goal we are working towards and we will update the community once we have solid information.
Q9) What are the current DFAC policies and future plans with regard to Airmen receiving BAS and using "to go" boxes at the DFAC?
A9) There are no plans to modify the BAS policy for the installation. Our FSS is currently in initial planning/preparation stages for the Air Force's Food Transformation Initiative (FTI). FTI is a program designed to provide Airmen greater variety, availability, and quality of food by utilizing a contractor (e.g. Sodexho or Aramark) for management and executive chef oversight of the dining facility. Additionally as part of the program, Airmen will be able to use their meal card at some of the other FSS food & beverage venues (i.e. golf course, bowling center, club). The AF is currently negotiating the contract for the next phase of FTI and JB Charleston will be a part of this phase. Once the negotiations are complete and we have more information, we will provide an update.
The Dining Facility (DFAC) presently offers carryout service (via "to-go" boxes) to on-duty military members (in uniform) with a mission need that prevents them from being able to physically dine at the DFAC. This policy helps the DFAC realize a savings of over $20,000 annually on the "to-go" boxes, which in turn is re-capitalized back into the facility to support mission requirements.
Q10) What is the timeline of projects to get the AB theater up and running for movies?
A10) To bring the AB theater up to an operational status, it requires a contractor site visit/estimate to assess the audio-visual equipment and make a determination on the cost and scope to install/interface the equipment. Our FSS is working with two contractors to provide the estimates. Site visits are scheduled to take place this month and early March. Additionally, FSS is working an agreement with the Navy Motion Picture Service for movie service, which would provide the actual movies to be played at the theater. As you may have noticed, there are also flooding issues (ground water seeping in) in the front of the theater that our civil engineers are working to solve. Once we have some solid answers on the contract requirements (including cost) and the flooding issues, we will update with a timeline for opening back up.
Q11) Is military One Source still available for counseling off base?
A11) Yes, Military One Source (MOS) provides free non-medical counseling by off-base providers to eligible service members and their families. These counselors are available for a myriad of issues such as adjustment, marital problems, parenting, stress management, grief, among others. Other resources/information available through MOS include financial counseling, free tax services, and language translation. The Community Support Coordinator is the POC and can liaise with the regional Military One Source representative should additional information be desired. Our CSC is Michelle McMeekin and she can be reached at 843-963-5476.
Q12) DoD recently announced changes in maternity leave policy and CDC daily hours. When do we expect those changes to take effect?
A12) The new policy regarding Maternity Leave is effective immediately. Below is a recap of the key points of the new policy:
- Eligible Airmen are now entitled to 12 weeks of non-chargeable convalescent Maternity Leave.
- Airmen currently on Maternity Leave will be granted a 42-day extension.
- Airmen currently on approved ordinary (chargeable) leave in conjunction with their Maternity Leave are authorized to convert regular leave to Maternity Leave not to exceed 84 days
- Commanders may not disapprove Maternity Leave
- In the case of dual-mil couples, Maternity Leave may not be 'transferred' to create a shared benefit
- Note: Sailors who are pregnant or who give birth prior to 3 March 2016 are entitled to 18 weeks of Maternity Leave. Those who become pregnant after 3 March 2016 will be entitled to the new 12-week benefit of non-chargeable Maternity Leave.
We are currently providing data to the Air Force Services Activity (AFSVA) on the new CDC hours as they work to gather info and provide specific implementation guidance. Due to a number of hard requirements, including increased manpower, funding, infrastructure modifications, etc., the anticipated implementation will be in FY 2017. We will update once we have a more definitive implementation timeline.