WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Military Personnel Flight, part of the 88th Force Support Squadron, has maintained its mission during COVID-19 to ensure essential personnel can continue their work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
The flight’s sections, housed in Bldg. 2, Area A, include ID Cards, Outbound Assignments and Force Management, while Installation Personnel Readiness is housed in Bldg. 1, Area A.
“The need to have a valid common access card and be logged onto the Air Force network, especially during this unprecedented time of mass telework, heavily relies on us,” said Capt. Michael J. Daniels, MPF commander.
The MPF team has not ceased in conducting its mission.
“There are some stipulations for who can be seen for appointments and there have been some remarkable efforts from the Air Force’s Personnel Center to extend expiration dates via online solutions; however, there are still many Total Force Airmen who have an absolute need to come in, be seen, and served by our team,” he said.
Depending on the circumstances, for PIN resets and to unlock cards, customers may walk in to be seen. For everything else, the MPF asks that customers make an appointment by calling 937-522-3664. Appointments start at 8 a.m. and are held until 3 p.m.
Master Sgt. Shane Cardines, MPF’s Customer Support section chief, noted that Dependent CAC cards (1173s) are out of stock. Department of Defense form 1172-2s, Application for Identification Card/DEERS Enrollment, are being given to dependents of active-duty members and retiree dependents. They will take the place of dependent cards until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2020.
“The team has been doing an amazing job during the last two months – seeing walk-in customers, cutting ID cards, making DEERS updates and taking care of new employees,” Cardines said. “We are making sure they are able to receive medical benefits as well, allowing members and their families to receive services here at Wright-Patt.”
Cardines noted the team is proud it has continued its work.
“We are mission critical,” he said. “If my team was not available to unlock CACs and update security-related items on CACs, customers would not be able to telework. Our team is essential in making sure everyone here is able to work from home.”
Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Bond, customer support technician, has been on base for almost six months.
“I’m a people person so I love dealing with people day to day,” she said. “What we do is help people. COVID-19 has put a damper on that because we don’t see as many people as we used to, so it’s a little bit more difficult. We are doing more things virtually so we don’t see kids here anymore. That’s a damper, too – I love seeing kids.
“We are trying to adapt and overcome,” she continued. “Serving mission-critical personnel gives me a greater purpose and makes me feel like I am contributing, no matter how small it is.”
Senior Airman Jacob Hedges, customer support technician, said, “The mission doesn’t stop due to COVID-19. It’s nothing we can’t handle. Our leadership does a good job of keeping our morale up and making sure we maintain high standards.”
A stop movement from the Secretary of Defense has essentially kept people from moving to their next duty station, but there are exceptions and the guidance is ever-changing, Daniels said. He commended Staff Sgt. Trevor Kennard, NCO in charge from the Outbound Assignments section, and his team during this stressful time.
“They have been supportive and knowledgeable in the customer service they have been providing,” Daniels said. “They’re empathetic. They are competent, committed and coachable – therefore empowered to making decisions that benefit everyone.”
Kennard said his section has worked with more than 300 service members during the stop movement, including students from the Air Force Institute of Technology, tech training schools and mission-essential personnel required to travel as approved by a general or SES member.
“We’ve out-processed 300-plus members virtually and that has been difficult,” he said, “but we have been meeting the mission and working with the Travel Management Office to ensure our Airmen are having their household goods picked up. People are going out to their bases to get the Air Force mission done.”
The team is adapting to the stop movement, often taking daily direction from the Air Force Personnel Center’s Facebook page, to ensure they are accommodating families and providing up-to-date options so customers feel good about where they are going and their stress is eased, he said. Kennard has been staying on top of the frequent changes by seeing them first on social media.
“PCSing (permanent change of station) is stressful enough but trying to do it during a worldwide pandemic is tough,” Kennard noted. “Our team has been working nonstop. I am very proud of them.”
Another part of the MPF is the Force Management section, said 2nd Lt. Colleen Sylvester, OIC. The 14-member team handles performance reports for officers and enlisted personnel, special-duty pay, G-series orders (record command succession), personnel systems management and awards and decorations.
“We have been able to fully telework, including our Airmen and our contractors, while ensuring members are able to promote on time, their EPS and OPRS and paperwork are being processed on time as normal so they can focus on their mission,” she said. “Our team has been excelling.”
Telework could be the future for the team, Sylvester said.
“We are proving that we can perform our mission even better from home,” she said. “The military telework process is doable and definitely something that can continue after COVID-19.”
Sylvester commended her team for their flexibility, hard work and tenacious attitude.
Installation Personnel Readiness
Every deployment tasking at Wright-Patterson AFB, no matter from which organization, is run through the MPF’s Installation Personnel Readiness section. It works with the 88th Logistics Readiness Squadron frequently.
The section keeps track of service members’ deployment orders, said Mark Everhart, IPR chief.
“We are still approaching the mission as normal during this time of COVID-19,” he said. “Anything that is asked of us, we are following through. The military is constantly moving, and members have to go where they have to go. We are here to make sure that happens.”
Everhart commended his strong team, especially Airman Noah Vith, IPR journeyman, for ensuring no details are missed.
“You can’t ask for anymore than what they have done,” Everhart said. “They have stepped up to the plate.”