Friday, October 7, 2011

Commander's commentary: Staying focused downrange while life continues at home

by Col. Eric S. Overturf
442nd Fighter Wing commander

10/6/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 442nd Fighter Wing is shifting into high gear to tackle our top 2011 priority to Support AEF Deployments. Currently, the wing has about 80 people deployed from across the 442nd to include the wing here at Whiteman, the 476th Fighter Group at Moody AFB, Ga.; the 917th FG at Barksdale AFB, La.; and the 924th FG at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

We've already deployed the first contingent of reservists and A-10 aircraft from Whiteman and Barksdale to support our tasking in Operation Enduring Freedom, and there will be hundreds more on the way to join them in the next few months. Thanks for showing the world how we are successfully executing our wing mission to Train and Deploy Ready Reservists!

Supporting our mission means doing everything we can to make this deployment a success. For the deployers, it means working with supervisors and unit deployment managers to complete all pre-deployment training on time. It also means keeping families and civilian employers in the loop to help them prepare for the deployment and make sure personal affairs are in order.

For those of us staying at home, it means supporting the deployers and their families, which fits in perfectly with our 2011 priority to Develop and Care for Airmen and their Families.

I've deployed many times, and knowing my family was in good hands allowed me to focus on the mission downrange. If you are worried about what's going on back home you won't be as safe or effective in theater, so we will do everything we can to inform your families and take care of them.

For starters, we are working diligently to get orders completed as soon as possible to allow access to benefits you are entitled to, like Tricare medical, tax-free pay, and even free childcare for those who live close enough to access base facilities.

One of the best ways to prepare for a deployment is to take part in a Yellow Ribbon event for those who are deploying 90 days or more.

Yellow Ribbon is a federally funded program that brings deploying reservists and their families together with support agencies to provide a wealth of well presented information on services available to reserve members and families. Most events are held in travel destinations like Orlando, Fla.; Virginia Beach, Va.; or St. Louis, Mo. and airline tickets, lodging and meals are provided for the member and family.

Maj. Lee Saugstad is the wing point-of-contact for Yellow Ribbon, and he will notify eligible deployers about pre- and post-deployment opportunities to attend events.
Your Airman and Family Readiness representative can also provide a wealth of information to support family members of deployed reservists.

Tech. Sgt. Nicole Adams is the wing A&FR representative here at Whiteman. The host base A&FR centers at all 442nd FW bases can also provide support for deployed reservists. Talk to them to find out about services like Deplayment Passes for free access to military welfare and recreation facilities, free oil changes at the base auto hobby shop and free items from to send deployed Airmen.

I wish I was deploying too, but they don't need a wing commander downrange just yet. In the meantime, I want you to know I appreciate your patriotism and willingness to support air expeditionary force deployments. The world is a better place because of people like you who are willing to step up and make a difference when called on to serve in our nation's defense.


Please note: In this significant commentary Col. Eric S. Overturf, 442nd Fighter Wing commander, talks about AFRC A-10Cs and related personnel as part of the "fresh" A-10C aircraft package, deployed to the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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