Senior Voice -

By Major Mike Dryden USAR Ret
Senior Voice Correspondent 

Guest columnist raises questions about Alaska Guard

Alaska Older Veterans Report

 


This month I am foregoing my monthly Veteran Healthcare Report to allow the following story to run. The article is the sole opinion of the author and does not constitute an endorsement by the Senior Voice.

Self inspection record raises questions about 176th Medical Group

By LINDA DUNEGAN, Lt. Col., AKANG, MSC, PhD, Ret.

What is the mission of the Alaska Air National Guard? They are citizen airmen / militia. They defend and protect Alaskans from the enemies both foreign and domestic.

Alaska’s 176th Wing is one of the largest and most active wings in the entire Air National Guard. Their mission includes Combat Search and Rescue, Tactical Airlift, Strategic Airlift, Air Control and Rescue Coordination.  Their primary mission is flying.

The 176th Medical Group is a group of military health professionals primarily responsible for the forces health management, individual medical readiness and performance enhancement of the operational and support personnel of the 176th Wing.

On the Alaska Air National Guard website, the 176th Wing’s commander states, “We maintain the integrity; build faith and confidence in the community. So, compliance shows we are good stewards of tax dollars. Our job is to organize, train and be equipped. We need taxpayer money to do that so we can defend our state and nation.”

All this sounds good; however, are they organized and trained as they should be? Not according to their own record, because in 2009 a Self-Inspection showed the Wing readiness at 100 percent and yet in 2011 that readiness figure had fallen to 39 percent. What factors lead to this precipitous drop in readiness from perfect to a dismal 39 percent?

The Chief of Nursing Services in March 2012 for the 176th Medical Group, stated, “We had done over 120 internal Self-Inspections before the Health Services Inspection. I already knew what programs needed work.”  She was in charge of working the program to pass the Health Services Inspection.

In March 2012, the inspection team stated how the inspection score validates the 176th Medical Group as “fully engaged and prepared to ensure continued mission success.” How did they work the numbers from 100 percent in 2009 to 39 percent in 2011 to passing 70 percent in 2012? Should we ask the Chief Nurse?

The Team Chief for the Air Force Inspection Agency announced that the Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Medical Group passed their Health Services Inspection in March 4, 2012. Health Service Inspections assess medical readiness, management effectiveness and quality of health-care delivery at all Air Force medical units. The 176th Medical Group received a rating of satisfactory indicating that they were carrying out their procedures and activities in an effective and competent manner.  Did this team see everything?

So, who was the Commander for the 176th Medical Group in 2010? Did the Commander do his job with checks and balances of his medical staff in performing their duties?

The 176th Medical Group is composed of medical personnel assets utilized by the State of Alaska in the event of natural disaster and homeland defense operations. Where were they when the C-17 crash occurred at JBER in July 2010? Is it possible that the C-17 crash could have been prevented?

According to the after-action report the C-17 crash was due to pilot error. Who is responsible to oversee the flyers’ physical and mental health? Could the Chief of Aerospace Medicine have been more involved? And who was that person during this whole tragic ordeal?

Is the 176th Wing ready for deployment, anytime and anywhere? Is the person responsible for flight physicals following regulation and protocol to the letter? Are the majority of the flight physical waivers being closely monitored? Are the personnel responsible for the medical group adhering strictly to regulations? Are the checks and balances for aviation activities in the Alaska Air National Guard adequate?

Is the current 176th Medical Group Commander protecting someone?

Reach Linda Dunegan at dunegan@hotmail.com.

 
 

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