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The End To A Perfect Party

It hurts me type this, not only because two of my fingers are lacerated, but because I promised myself and others that I would be in this situation. In chain-reaction fashion, I had made decisions that resulted in me lying face down on the pavement, bruised and bloodied, wondering about broken bones and shattered teeth.

“watashi-no kao wa?” (How’s my face?) I weakly asked one of two people who rushed to help. In a blurred instant I had gone from atop a bicycle to sorting out what might never be the same. “Your chin is bloodied,” one of my helpers said, grabbing one arm. The helper on my other arm seemed to look away as he helped me to my feet, making me wonder what they weren’t telling me…My lip did not feel right. Since I had landed facedown, I expected worse.

As I got up, I saw that the third and fourth fingers on my right hand long jagged tears and were bleeding. At this point, I didn’t care about the road rash on my other hand, the scarped on my forearm, or the multiple bruises on both legs. I thanked my helpers, slowly walked my bike to the nearest bench, got a towel out of my backpack and applied direct pressure to stop the flow of blood. It was only then, in the stable quiet of the bench, that I realized how much my equilibrium was off – I had been riding drunk.

Guilt and self-loathing settled heavily on my shoulders. Just an hour ago, I had been so happy at what seemed like the perfect summer party: great people, great barbeque, beautiful scenery, pleasant weather, ice-cold beer. The conversation was flowing in three languages and so was the tap. IN fact, one did not even have to speak. I help my insulated cup out to the server and he filled it half-full each time. Steak, German sausages, Japanese pickles, fried onions and shitake mushrooms circulated regularly on plates – I had my fill of these foods accompanied by the chilled beer. Over the space of three and a half hours, I believed that I was nursing my drink – having just enough to wash down the food, I was wrong. Actually, I was wrong several times.

  1. They said you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, yet I had brought a bike to a keg party. I never would have driven a car, but until my fall, I believed it was safe for me to have a couple beers and ride a bicycle.
  2. I did not stop at one or two beers as is my practice. I usually find it unpleasant to have more than two drinks at a sitting. However, this particular day, fine chilled beer, warm weather, good food, the mood – something enticed me to drink more. (I wish it had been tea).
  3. I could have easily walked my bike to the nearby train station, but I didn’t. In my party buzz I felt great; so, I was riding a mountain bike on a narrow road from Haijima to Ome City. As I rode through Fussa, a car swerved around me to pass. I thought the driver would cut me off, so I veered left, suddenly catching handlebar on a fence. My bike stopped instantly, but I didn’t until I hit the pavement. A tough was to end a beautiful day.

The Japanese have a long tradition of drinking and partying, yet they advise to not have a single drink before operating any moving vehicle. I now believe they are not being overly cautious, but applying lessons learned from a history of experiences just like mine. I both regret not heeding this advice and apologize for not obeying it sooner.

While I believe there are often a series of poor decisions that lead to disasters, it is harder to make correct decision once a person has started drinking. Planning for a “perfect party experience” should include preplanning a safe way home that won’t require first-aid.

-Submitted anonymously by a retired Airman 

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Ask a JAG: Why do I have to certify my SGLI on SOES?

“What is SOES, and why do I keep getting emails saying I need to certify?” Since August 2017, we have been hearing this more and more in the 374th AW Legal Office. We want to make sure that all members of the Yokota community know the services that are available to them. In Ask A JAG, we answer Yokota’s burning legal questions in a straightforward, legalese-free newsletter. In today’s edition, we tackle online enrollment and certification of SGLI. 

What is SOES?

Most people know what SGLI, or Servicemembers Group Life Insurance, is: a low-cost life-insurance policy available for service-members and their families. What many people are not familiar with is SOES: the SGLI Online Enrollment System. 

SOES allows service-members with full-time SGLI coverage to change their coverage and beneficiary information online, at any time, without the need for paperwork or a trip to the personnel office. Previously, service-members needed to fill out Form SGLV 8286 to change any SGLI elections, whether it be to reduce the $400,000 automatic coverage they receive or change beneficiaries following the birth of a new baby. In August of 2017, however, the Air Force began roll-out of SOES to allow Total Force Airmen to change and validate their coverage and add beneficiary information online. 

To set up SOES, the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) uploaded 2.3 million SGLI records to MilConnect so that service members would have access to their records online. The Air Force then began notifying Total Force Airmen of the availability of the new system and the requirement to review and validate the information that was uploaded into the system. Eventually, paper changes to SGLI will not be available to service members, leaving SOES as the only option to modify SGLI coverage. 

Notification of the SOES roll-out is sent to Airmen based on their birth month – but implementation of the system is effective now and scheduled to conclude in June 2018.  Even if their birth-month hasn’t rolled around yet, service-members can use SOES to manage the amount of their coverage, name and update beneficiaries, and certify their SGLI records.  Though the roll-out is more than half-way finished, Air Force certification is only at a 57% completion rate. 

Why do I need to certify?

Not reviewing and certifying your SGLI has serious consequences. If you do not review the online record and validate your initial elections from the original data uploaded onto SOES, the record is not authoritative on your choices. In other words, if the worst were to occur, your elected coverage and beneficiaries in SOES can’t be relied on.  

More importantly, there will be mistakes in any system overhaul.  Millions of records were uploaded from the DMDC files in order to get SOES up and running.  Several service members we have spoken to have noticed that although their elected coverage was entered into the system properly, their beneficiaries did not upload at all.  Though FSS will then rely on the information you previously elected through paper, it won’t be the first place that they look.  

Many people believe that their life insurance will pay out according to their will, frequently through a trust, regardless of what they enter into SOES.  Using trusts as the beneficiary for your SGLI help create added layers of protection to prevent unwanted individuals from obtaining money that belongs to your loved ones.  However, your will and your SGLI elections are legally entirely separate.  SGLI will only go to those people, trusts, or estates that you expressly name as beneficiaries under SOES – there is no “default” will option.  While you can name a trust or estate as a beneficiary under SOES, a trust must be created first before it can be named as a beneficiary under SOES.  Prior to naming a trust or estate as a beneficiary, you want to seek help from a military attorney.  If you don’t set the trust up properly (or worse, don’t set the trust up at all), then you risk your money going somewhere you don’t want it to. 

There are some legal ramifications on the SOES update.  While SOES currently does allows service-members to elect a “legal entity” (legalese for a trust) as your SGLI beneficiary, it does not allow the service-member to add language that describes that trust in detail.  Under normal circumstances, we at the Legal Office would typically advise service-members to include language on their SOES form that notes exactly which trust you want the SGLI to go to, for example: “Trust established in my will, dated 27 April 2018, whose Trustee is Jane Doe.”  SOES only allows service-members 100 characters for the trust’s name and federal tax ID.  While DOD is fixing this feature, if you need to make changes or want to create a trust to send your SGLI to, you may still use the SGLV 8286.

Ultimately, certification of your SGLI selections gives you peace of mind knowing that your family will be taken care of should something happen to you.  No one wants the added stress of confusion regarding who receives a life insurance payment following the death of a family member.

How do I certify? 

There are 5 easy steps to certify your SGLI on SOES: 

1) Sign into: www.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect with your CAC or DoD Self-Service Login. 

2) Click on the “Benefits” tab. 

3) Click on “Life Insurance (SOES – SGLI Online Enrollment System)” 

4) Click “Continue” on the Notice and Consent Page

5) Follow the instructions on the Welcome to SOES page and “User Guide” located on the right hand column of the page. 

Where Can I Learn More About SOES? 

You can learn more about SOES and SGLI on either the MilConnect website listed above or the following U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs site: https://www.benefits.va.gov/insurance/SOES.asp. There is also a web-based self-service training available at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/insurance/training/SOES/SOES.htm.  

You also have the right to speak with an attorney at no expense if you have additional questions regarding SGLI. To make an appointment at the 374 AW Legal Office, call DSN 225-8069 or COMM 042-552-2511 ext. 5-8069.

-Capt. Alexandra K. Fleszar, 374th Airlift Wing Legal Office

 

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Ask A JAG: What Tips Do You Have For Tax Season?

 Photo by yuriz/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by yuriz/iStock / Getty Images

ASK A JAG: WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR TAX SEASON?

Alexandra K. Fleszar, Capt, 374 AW Legal Office

“What tips do you have for tax season?” With 15 April right around the corner, taxes are on all of our client’s minds. We in the 374 AW Legal Office want to make sure that everyone in the Yokota community gets the best advice on filing this season. In Ask A JAG, we answer Yokota’s burning legal questions in a straightforward, legalese-free newsletter. Today’s edition covers our top tips for tax season. 

Is April 15 really our deadline overseas? What if I was in a combat zone?

This answer is often the biggest surprise for our clients: if you are living anywhere outside of the United States, you do not have to file your taxes until 15June. Those who are taxed by the United States but live abroad are given an automatic two-month extension to file your taxes. Be careful though: if you owe taxes and choose to pay after 15 April, the money you owe will accrue interest and incur penalties. If you think you might owe but still need more time to file, work with a tax preparer to estimate your taxes and send in an estimated payment; you can follow up with the filing later on. To claim this extension, your taxes must be marked as an overseas filing when submitted, and include a statement noting that you were abroad on 15 April. Thank Japan for reducing the stress of filing by April with those extra two months. 

If you served in a Combat Zone during 2017, you have even more time to file. Not only do you receive an automatic 180-day extension (in addition to the two-month delay for living abroad), you also receive extra days if you remained deployed during the filing season. Here’s how it works: say you deployed to Afghanistan on 1 September 2017 and returned to Yokota on 28 February 2018. First, you live abroad, so your taxes are not due until 15 June. Second, add 180 days to that 15 June deadline for your 2017 deployment – this brings your due date to 12 December 2018. Finally, add the 58 days that you could not file during the filing season from 1 January through 28 February, because you were still deployed at the time. That gives you almost an extra year to file your taxes, with a deadline of 8 February 2019. Though this extension is automatic for service members, it’s good practice to give the IRS a heads-up so that they don’t accidentally bill you. Schedule an appointment with the Yokota Tax Center or Legal Office for more information if this situation applies to you. 

Do I claim Head of Household if my spouse is not earning income? 

    The Head of Household filing status often confuses taxpayers. Many people think this status is claimed by the primary income earner in a married, two-parent family – especially if that person is the only income-earner of the couple. This is not the case. To claim Head of Household status, you must be unmarried at the end of the year while supporting dependents in your home. This status was designed to give single parents a break on their taxes in the same way that only married couples had historically received. Though certain circumstances allow one parent going through a separation to claim Head of Household while supporting kids, this is the only exception to the rule that you cannot be married and claim the Head of Household status. Married couples need not worry – you receive more benefits when filing jointly than as any other filing status, even if only one of you is earning income. You can’t claim Head of Household, but it also wouldn’t help you overall.  

What deductions and credits are available to me and how can I claim them?

    Tax law is one of the most intricate legal fields. While it would be hard to list all available tax breaks in one article, there are a few that we see frequently that you may not know about. 

    Child and Dependent Care Credit: While most people know that having a child under the age of thirteen automatically provides a $1000 deduction, not everyone knows that you can claim certain expenses incurred for child or dependent care as a credit. Money paid to obtain care for a minor child or dependent adult in order to allow you (and your spouse, if filing jointly) to work can be claimed to help lessen your tax burden. This credit can only be claimed, however, when you have “earned income” – a term that the IRS defines specifically. If you think you may qualify for this credit, bring your dependent care expenses and information on your income to your tax prep appointment. 

    Education Credits: There are two education credits that cover different types of expenses. The American Opportunity Credit is generally available for those pursuing a degree in an accredited higher education institution, while the Lifetime Learning Credit is for those simply taking courses to acquire or improve job skills without necessarily earning a degree. While the rules on eligibility differ for each, a fine point on both is that they will only cover expenses paid out of pocket that were not covered by scholarships, the G.I. Bill, or tuition assistance. 

    Retirement Contribution Credits: You may receive a tax credit if you contributed to an IRA, 401(k), or other qualified employer savings plan. You may not qualify for this credit if you also took distributions from these accounts in the past or during the tax year, or if your adjusted gross income is higher than the phase-out limit for your filing status. But if you saved money in a retirement account, let your tax preparer know to find out whether you qualify. 

    There is one key to claiming any credit that bears repetition: document, document, document. You can’t claim tax benefits for expenses or contributions that you can’t prove, so in this case, the more paper documentation you have, the better off you are. When in doubt, bring the receipt, account summary, or form that you think might help you and show it to your tax preparer. 

When do I need to bring in the big (tax) guns? 

    While Military One-Source and VITA Prep Sites like the Tax Center are great resources, there are certain situations that require serious expertise from someone who lives and breathes taxes. One example would be the sale of property; selling your home involves both significant tax implications and complicated math to determine the depreciation and original cost basis of the property. Another example would be if you have multiple businesses, or a business with revenue over $25,000. The taxes and deductible expenses involved with maintaining businesses at this level can change from year to year – meaning it’s a good idea to consult with someone who has worked permanently in the field over many years. If your tax situation calls for a professional, seek help from a Certified Public Accountant or major tax preparation company. 

What do I need to bring to a tax preparer?

    Certain information will always be necessary in a tax preparation session to make sure that you can file your return and receive it as quickly as possible. Federally accepted photo ID is the first step: to protect your identity all preparers will need to verify who you are. In the same line, preparers will need you to prove that the Social Security or Tax Identification Number that you are providing is actually assigned to you, so bring the originals card or forms with you. You want to have your bank account information, including routing and account transit numbers, on hand to have your return direct deposited to you as quickly as possible. Finally, if you are visiting a Military VITA Prep Site like the Yokota Tax Center, you want to fill out and bring Form 13614-C, the IRS Intake/Interview & Quality Review Sheet. Bringing these items, plus all of your tax documentation for the year, will help your preparer file your return quickly. 

Where can I get help preparing my taxes?

    There are multiple resources available to help you prepare and file for the 2017 season. If your taxes are relatively simple, you may want to try the Miltax Filing Service on Military One-Source. This free service provides secure self-prep and e-filing software for eligible service members, their families, and survivors. The software provides free technical assistance and access to a OneSource tax consultant. It is available at http://www.militaryonesource.mil/taxprep

    If you’re worried about self-filing, the Yokota Tax Center is here to help. Our dedicated volunteers prepare and e-File your returns by appointment only, Monday through Thursday, 0900 – 1600. To schedule an appointment, call 315-225-4926.

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So There I was...by Major Jesse Barnes

So there I was......

Last October I watched Yokota's last legacy Herc fly off and it was an emotionally draining day for me. I've spent years and thousands of hours flying all over the world and I still try to pinpoint why I'm so passionately attached to this piece of metal and the Tac Airlift mission? Tough to say. The 36th Airlift Squadron has a tradition of retelling valiant tales with maybe 10% truth to those who leave. The departing member hangs their patch and leave a piece of themselves behind. I'd like to share some tales about this aircraft that has left Yokota and maybe leave a small piece of its heritage behind as well.

So there I was......

My first 10 flights in the E-Model taught me several techniques in storing massive amounts of vomit. Those are trade secrets so I won't share here, and it was months before I realized my "MVP" nickname stood for most violent puker. It just seemed that the Herc attracted a certain type? That plane had its own personality and it was as rugged and extraordinary as the crews and wrench benders that put their hands on it daily. It never seemed to fly that fast, in fact, it flies at the speed of smell. That speed is....subjective. The Legacy Herc doesn't fly that high. It actually makes its money flying low. Not like helicopter slow and low but enough to never be called a Strat Airlifter. There is nothing worse than being called a Strat airlifter. That's for the Gucci C-17 crews.

So there I was......

2008....springtime in Iraq. Our crew has been delivering beans and bullets for months and we finally get the call. Combat airdrops! We were finally going to airdrop the goods. It's what we were training and practicing for years and it all led to this moment. That's when I found out what a leaflet drop was and I'm not going to lie....I may have set my expectations too high with the excitement level. We met with some Australians to mission plan and I went overboard trying to explain leaflet drop dispersal patterns in regards to atmospheric conditions. It was just a fancy science-like way of saying that wind blows these things all over the place once we dump them out the back of the plane. The Australian Navigator finally just stopped me and told me it was all magic and that I should focus on supporting the mission in Iraq instead of on the Royal Australian Air Force. To this day, I have no idea what he was talking about but that was mostly because of his accent. Long story short, I combat airdropped (not littered) 300,000 pieces of paper all over the city of Nasiriyah.   

So there I was.....

Some of the best missions were the relief sorties delivering aid because it was helping humans. My crew landed in Tbilisi Georgia later that year and a Senator from Delaware met me at the back of the plane to inspect all of our sleeping bags we were delivering. At first, I thought it was just a really overdressed Tbilisian port dawg until all the camera crews showed up. After some quick introductions he shook my hand and asked if I wanted to take a picture with him. He did say that I had a firm handshake and asked where I was from. Turns out he made a lot of headlines later that month when it was announced that Sen. Joe Biden from Delaware was selected to be the vice presidential running mate with Barrack Obama. My version of events did not make the Stars and Stripes though.

There are so many missions and tales that have cemented the legacy...of the Legacy Herc. A smart but loud Colonel once told me that changing the plane doesn't mean changing the culture. Maybe it's the culture that I'm emotionally attached to? 

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Safe travels and Sayonara mighty Hercules.

 

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Food for Thought

To improve school lunches at Yokota Air Base, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is going straight to the experts—parents and students.

From Feb. 5 through 16, students at Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools and their parents can visit https://schoolmealprogram.typeform.com/to/VZPPjm to participate in a survey about the Exchange’s school meal program in Europe and the Pacific.

Survey results will be used to assess the popularity of meal choices and drive possible menu changes at DoDEA schools. The Exchange last surveyed parents and students about its school meal program in 2009.

Survey participants can choose their favorite menu items and provide general feedback about school meals at Yokota. Both parents and students may take the survey—even grade-schoolers are encouraged to take the survey with the assistance of a parent.

“The Exchange wants to provide Warfighters’ children with the options kids crave at the nutritional standards parents demand,” said Exchange General Manager Shinobu Matsui. “We want families to tell us how we’re doing as far as meeting that goal so we can continue to improve lunchtime at Yokota schools.”

 Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

Nutritional standards for DoDEA student meals are set by the Exchange’s registered dietitian in accordance with United States Department of Agriculture guidelines. Requirements include:

All menu items are baked and never fried

Meals must have zero grams of trans fat.

All breads, buns, dinner rolls, rice, macaroni, spaghetti pasta, tortillas and entrée breading are rich in whole grains (made with at least 50 percent whole grain flour).

All meals served must include a fruit or vegetable. Students may choose from a variety of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables including carrots, broccoli, oranges and more.

Meals adhere to nutrient standards for calories, sodium and fat for different age groups.

During the 2016-2017 school year, the Exchange served 2.6 million lunches to children at 78 DoDEA school cafeterias. The Exchange also operates overseas plants that provide whole-grain baked goods—all made using American flour—to DoDEA schools.  

One hundred percent of Exchange earnings support military Quality-of-Life programs, including below-cost school lunches for Warfighters’ children overseas.

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Parking on Yokota

Team Yokota,

I've gotten a few complaints about the parking situation and enforcement around buildings 314, 315, 316, 702, and 703. Bottom line is that we're doing this for safety and for security at Yokota. Our emergency vehicles need to be able to reach buildings and fire hydrants.

The Traffic Safety Coordination Group assessed all base parking to find the right balance between convenience and safety/security for everyone. There's not a lot of convenient parking. However, parking is within a 5 minute walk of most areas on the base. Please use all available parking including the parking structure (Bldg 816) next to USFJ and LRS. Additionally, we're building a parking lot next to Bldg. 210 that will have 188 more spots set to be complete in March. Finally, I will talk to USFJ and 5th Air Force leaders and ask them to help us by parking in the front of their building and in the parking garage, which will help the parking in front of buildings 702 and 703.

I hear you that parking is not ideal. We're working on it, but in the meantime please continue to follow the guidance we've sent out. Our Defenders work hard keeping you safe, and we need to support them by following the parking rules.

Col Kenneth Moss

Commander, 374 Airlift Wing

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Community Action Information Board Q & A

Team Yokota,

 

Last week we held our second open Community Action Information Board, and I appreciated the opportunity to speak in an open forum about issues in our Yokota Air Base community. Although I can’t promise to fix every problem, I can assure you that I will always be transparent in the decisions I make regarding the policies we have here at Yokota. It is a privilege to provide you information and resources, and I am especially grateful to provide insight to our spouses and dependents who are vital to our mission. With the assistance of our experts, here are some of the answers to the questions that came up in the meeting.

How’s the access for the new Give Parents a Break Program? The old way there was an event organized quarterly that you could use a voucher to get free care for a night. For the new program, you can use the Give Parents a Break Program when it’s good for you, but there is talk that spouses don’t have access or limited access. 

Child Development Centers are designed for mission essential personnel so that single Airmen or deployed Airmen who have children (not school-aged) have an option for childcare while they are taking care of the mission. Under the original Give Parents a Break Program, there was one event per quarter that spouses of deployed Airmen or families who are experiencing a hardship could bring their children to and use a voucher for free care. The new pilot program is designed to cater to the deployed spouses by giving them leeway to use their voucher at their convenience for drop-in care. However, the CDC’s availability varies depending on staffing and capacity, so opening up this opportunity does not guarantee spouses will be able to use the CDC when they want, but it does provide them an option. What’s important for those using the Give Parents a Break Program to understand is that right now we do not have Family Child Care providers and the CDC staff is doing their best to accommodate these requests. There are currently four FCCs in training and the child care staff is working diligently to ensure they get through the process expeditiously. 

The CDC is still offering Parents Night Out quarterly, where those with Give Parents a Break vouchers can use them. However, if people with vouchers are interested in using the drop-in care option, the CDC will work to accommodate them. They do ask that if you want to use this option, you let the child care staff know that you are using the Give Parents a Break Program when you call in for care. This gives the staff an opportunity to look into their status of availability and schedule you. 

In regards to the FCC providers, is there a pricing structure that they’re suggested to follow or are they able to set the prices? Is it comparable to the pricing structure of the CDC, based on your income?

Family Child Care providers are self-employed and are able to set their own prices, but they do have access to the CDC pricing structure and know what rates the CDC is charging. They are able to charge the CDC rate.

COLA

COLA is cyclical and is based on two surveys. One is the Living of Pattern Survey, which is distributed every three years.  This survey is sent out by the Air Force and asks what your purchasing habits are -- Where do you shop? How much are you spending? The next LPS is coming up early this summer. If you want to have a direct impact on your COLA, taking the survey should be a priority. Both Airmen and their spouses have the option of taking this survey, so if one spouse does more of the shopping, they should be the ones filling out the survey to get the most accurate results. 

The second survey is called the Retail Price Survey. For this survey, selected members of the base go out and reprice the goods that you identified in the Living Pattern Survey. It consists of 120 items that cover all the items we purchase on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis from laundry detergents, to alcohol, tobacco, steak, milk, eggs, furniture, and recreation in the local area – it covers the whole spectrum. Members go out and reprice items from a checklist of places you identified that you shop at in the LPS. They reprice items annually, and that’s why we see some fluctuations. 

Who are the members that conduct the RPS?

Each base does the Retail Price Survey individually and it usually floats down to the finance office, but the finance office does try and get spouses throughout the base involved with it. A lot of times the members who conduct the survey are Airmen from the finance office because they have difficulty getting volunteers to help. During the next RPS, we will work hard to make sure more people are included in this opportunity.

Does the LPS get sent to the active duty member or do spouses also have access to it? 

Active duty members and their spouses will both have access to the Living Pattern Survey. Active duty members will receive an official email with the survey link, and they can pass the survey info to their spouses. We will also make sure information about the survey is sent out via Public Affairs channels and broadcast on AFN. Additionally, information about the survey will be distributed through the key spouses and be accessible on non-government computers. 

Thanks to everyone for their interest and efforts in making Yokota a better place to live. The installation team is committed to addressing the issues that make life more challenging here and doing everything in our power to fix and improve the base.  It is an honor to serve with all of you right now. This is a great place to live and work, and we want to keep it that way!

- Col Ken Moss , 374th Airlift Wing Commander

 

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ASK A JAG: What Can I Do With A Power Of Attorney?

Alexandra K. Fleszar, Capt, 374 AW Legal Office

“Could someone explain what POAs I need for my NEO folder?” We hear this question all the time in the 374th AW Legal Office. We want to make sure that all members of the Yokota community know the services that are available to them and understand the legalese. In Ask A JAG, we answer Yokota’s burning legal questions in a straightforward, bi-monthly newsletter. In today’s edition, we tackle what you can do with a Power of Attorney. 

What is a POA?

Let’s start with the basics. A power of attorney, or POA, is a document that hands over your legal abilities to another person, who then becomes your “agent.” The POA allows the agent to take actions for you, even in your absence. You can think of this like a celebrity’s agent.  For example, George Clooney can’t talk with every movie producer who tries to reach him; so he has an agent who closes movie deals on his behalf. 

Whatever your agent does with your POA legally binds you to those acts. So if George’s agent signs him on to Sharknado 3, George is stuck battling a tornado of sharks even if he hates the script. In the real world, this has serious consequences if you give your POA to the wrong person.  

 Photo by studio35ist/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by studio35ist/iStock / Getty Images

With a POA, you might want to let someone access your bank accounts to pay your rent while you are TDY, but if you’re not careful about which person you choose and how you write a POA, that person could legally pocket all of your money instead. 

That is why there are several different types of POAs for different situations: they protect you by minimizing the damage your agent can do by only allowing them to act in certain ways. General POAs give your agent the right to conduct any business you could do for yourself. Many on- and off-base agencies will not accept General POAs because they are so powerful and can be easily abused.  A good option is the Special POA (SPOA) which allows your agent to act only for specific transactions, such as a single car sale. A durable POA allows your agent to act on your behalf even if you are incapacitated, generally during an emergency healthcare event. 

When Do I Use a POA?

POAs are most useful in situations where you are separated from your loved ones, belongings, or the location in which you need to conduct business.

Personal Transactions. Most people become familiar with POAs when they are PCS-ing, because they need someone to sell their car or forward their mail. SPOAs are perfect for these business or personal transactions and can be used for whatever it is that you choose, from selling or buying a home to signing and filing other legal documents like your tax returns. 

Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO). Dependents and pets are great examples of how POAs are crucial during NEOs. In the event of an evacuation, both dual-military and single-parent families will require another person to take their child on a plane to the safe haven point and eventually home. To travel with your child, the designated person will need a SPOA to exercise guardianship during the trip. Likewise, if your child will be in the care of a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or family friend when they reach home, that person will need a SPOA to enroll the child in school, make medical decisions for them, and obtain access to their records. The SPOA in this case, called an In Loco Parentis, allows the caretaker to act in place of the parents. 

Pet-care poses another situation in which families will want to have an SPOA in place.  Let’s say you are on vacation or a short-term TDY and a neighbor is caring for your pet. If a NEO is ordered or Sparky gets sick and needs to see a vet, your neighbor would need an SPOA to take your pet on the plane or bring them to get medical care. Many people do not realize that most vets will not see a pet without an SPOA if the owner is not present.  

There are other situations in which SPOAs could come in handy during a NEO. If one family member buys a car and registers it in their name and then returns home during a NEO, the remaining family member will need an SPOA to sell, register, or act with legal authority over the car. The same applies to individual bank accounts which multiple family members may need to access if they are separated. SPOAs allow family members to act with the same authority even though they are not in the same place and did not originally have the same legal access. 

Medical Care. Being a military member can pose issues for contacting family back home in the event of an emergency. It can be helpful to designate a trusted friend or nearby family member to make emergency medical decisions for you in the event that you cannot. Your family back home may know your preferences about medical care if you were to be rendered unconscious in a car accident, but if the hospital is unable to reach your family, having a healthcare POA in place could save your life. 

The beauty of POAs is that they can be tailored to fit your needs and are almost limitless in design. The key is to think about what you might need someone else to do in an emergency. Once you know what your needs are, or if you want help identifying situations in which you might need a POA, call or visit the Legal Office to discuss the issues and obtain the document that best fits your situation. POAs provided by the Legal Office are effective in all 50 states. 

Where Can I Get a POA? 

The Legal Assistance Office has weekly POA walk-in hours every Monday through Thursday, 0900 – 1500. 

For faster service, you can provide the POA information ahead of your visit by following these steps: 

  • Visit the Legal Assistance Website at: https://aflegalassistance.law.af.mil/lass/lass.html
  • Click on the “Legal Worksheets” heading, then “Create Power of Attorney (POA) Worksheet.” 
  • Choose the type of POA you need, answer the associated questions, and submit the answers. 
  • Write down the ticket number you receive and bring it into the Legal Assistance Office. 

To make an appointment at the Legal Office, call DSN 225-8069 or COMM 042-552-2511 ext. 5-8069.

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Christmas 1991

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Christmas 1991

It was Christmas 1991;

And due to overpopulation.

Santa Claus financed a car;

Cause his eight little reindeer couldn’t fly him that far.

So he loaded his presents in a 92’ Vette; 

With his gas tank full he knew he was set.

He shot on the freeway doin’ One Hundred and nine;

With his RADAR detector he’d knew he’d be fine.

Little did he know, coming the other way;

Was a driver who’d been drinking for most of the day.

The driver swerved to left, he swerved to right;

Santa saw him coming, his heart filled with fright.

He slammed on the brakes, he jerked on the wheel;

But all that was heard was a thunderous squeal.

The cars hit head on, oh what a mess;

What happened to Santa I bet you can guess.

His body flew one way the presents another;

No one could identify him, not even his mother.

So if you’re now sad and wish Santa was alive;

Please during the holidays, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

 

Oh no!  Not another “Don’t Drink and Drive” speech from another Chief during the holidays.  What’s next, a briefing on safety?

I wrote this poem as High School senior with a friend of mine for the school newspaper.  Drunk driving fatalities in our area were an epidemic.  We had recently lost one of our classmates to a drunk driver and this was a hot topic at the time.  And guess what?  It still is.  

However, I would like to change the narrative a little bit.  I think the mantra over the last 25 years or so has been “Do not drink and drive”.  We’ve heard “0-0-1-3.”  We’ve heard, “Have a plan.”  Recently we have heard, “Even if you had just one, don’t drive.”  You’ve been told by your leadership, “Call me, call your supervisor, call AADD.”  The military has tried to provide us with every tool imaginable to get folks not to drive under the influence of alcohol. Guess what?  We are still doing it.

In my 23 years of service, I've seen more than 50 DUI cases.  However, in all those cases I've heard the same excuse standing in front of the commander:  “I thought I was good.”

After sitting in on an Article 15 proceeding with one of our Airmen, the Commander said, after the Airman left the room, "Well, I guess he wasn't fine!". That hit me. It resonated with me. If we have to ask ourselves, "Am I good to go?", then we are NOT. If your buddy says, "Hey, you sure you're good to drive?"... that in itself should tell you, you NOT. Why are we taking the chance? Why are we risking our careers, our lives and the lives of others? 

If I have to ask myself or if someone else has to ask me if I am good, then the answer should be no. If you have to ask a friend if they are good, then answer is no. 

Statistics prove that 99% of the military does not drink and drive. Be like the 99% that do not drink and drive. Be like the 99% that does not guess whether they are good or not, but passes their keys to a friend or makes that phone call to their back-up plan.

Be safe this holiday season. Keep Santa on the Road.

CMSgt Richie Bennet (Bolt Chief)
Superintendent, 374th Operation Support Squadron

  

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What Type of Leader Are You?

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What Type of Leader Are You?

Humilem, Affabilis, et Credendum.

The military loves its Latin mottos! Humble, approachable and credible. These attributes are the driving force behind the Air Force’s elite Weapons Instructor Course. If this is what we expect from our best, why not expect this from all of our peers? This attitude towards leadership is not groundbreaking or new, but is a great start if you are looking for direction or a vector. It is a warrior mentality that the Wing embraces and these traits that should define us.

Credibility is hard to earn and relies heavily on job knowledge and trust. All Airmen start off vying to be experts in their chosen occupation and that path is long and usually very demanding. A young maintainer will start off on jobs signing out all the tools and for the most part, hold a flashlight while they watch …they learn…they study the art of troubleshooting and repairing. The same is true for a young and inexperienced pilot. They will find themselves on early deployments with other flyers that have more hours and deployments.  These crews are purposely built to offset the lack of experience that young pilot brings to the team. 

What happens to this young maintainer or pilot over the years is this transformation that is a result from years of learning and executing the mission. The maintainer will look around and realize he is the one teaching an apprentice how to fix a plane while the rookie holds a flashlight. The pilot on his fourth deployment down range will stop to look at his or her crew and see combat aviators that have less than hundred hours and are on their first endeavor from home. This kind of credibility is not earned overnight.

You know what can be learned overnight? Approachability. 

It is literally defined as being pleasant, congenial and cordial. This takes no talent and definitely does not take years to learn but we all have probably met at least one non-approachable or distant leader in our lifetime. The thing is…. being approachable is easy but it still takes meaningful effort. You have to listen, not be passive in engaging co-workers, and most importantly….be mindful of the non-verbal communication. It is a trait that has to be passionately pursued and not flaccidly sought. If you think you are approachable, you may not be. Just ask? The more approachable and trustworthy you are, the faster you will get information and you’ll be able to get to the issues that require leadership quicker.

Last but not least, my favorite trait….humility. Nobody is infallible or perfect. We all learn from excruciating, humbling experiences. If you are the expert in your field, and you are approachable, do not become overconfident or arrogant. Part of being a reliable professional is to know your strengths and weaknesses and be accountable. Push yourself and don’t be afraid to fail. This takes courage and confidence. It is about minimizing yourself and maximizing the mission! To close, here’s a dead guy quote also borrowed from some experiences in the Wing.

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there. Eighty are just targets. Nine are real fighters and we are lucky to have them for they make the battle. Ah but the one. One is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” Heraclitus.

 We all should strive to be that humble, credible and approachable warrior.

- Major Jesse Barnes 374th MXG

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Use EQ to Boost your IQ

When I was a young maintainer, fresh out of Tech School, my focus was on increasing my IQ by completing CDCs and enrolling in college courses. Like most professional Airmen, I tied my success to doing well on promotion tests, PME, and knowing my job. I felt that to reach my fullest potential, I had to hit the books hard and that would help me get my next stripe. However, in hindsight, one of the biggest elements of success that I have come to rely on just as much as my IQ is my EQ or Emotional Quotient.

EQ (Also known as emotional intelligence) is defined as an individual's ability to identify, evaluate, control, and express emotions. People with high EQ usually make great leaders and team players because of their ability to understand, empathize, and connect with the people around them. Some would call this having “soft skills”. In fact, David Goleman, one of the founders of the term emotional quotient, once said, “In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding”. In other words, the people who implement the human side of what it takes to be successful are the ones who embody the core value of “Excellence in all we do”. As leaders, mentors, peers and friends, we must find a balance of both EQ and IQ to bring the best of ourselves to the mission.

Here are 3 reasons why EQ can help boost your IQ: 

  1. Perceiving Emotions:  In order to understand emotions, we must first identify/perceive them appropriately. A leader who is unable to gauge the needs, wants and expectations of those they are placed in charge of, is inevitably going to have a harder time than those who can. When you ask your Airman how they are doing, and they say “fine” with crossed arms and poor eye contact, this can be a telltale sign to engage further.  Body language and facial expressions tell a story all their own and studies show that effective communication is 7% the words we use and 93% tone and body language.
  2. Managing Reasoning:  Leaders who are more self-aware can develop skills that will help them manage their own emotions, allowing them to respond more effectively to situations that arise.  We must pause and think before reacting with raw emotion. When we think critically, we make better decisions.  It can be detrimental to react without filters.  This behavior may erode the relationships and credibility we have built overtime. Simply put, leaders can’t afford to lose their cool and make rash decisions because they are upset with a situation or individual.
  3. Understanding Emotions:  Emotions can come from a wide variety of sources.  For example, if an Airman is angry, as a leader we must ask ourselves why.  Did they have a fight with their spouse, are they upset with a work assignment given to them, is there an upcoming deployment that has them concerned and out of character? Former Navy SEAL Brent Gleeson said, “Put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand how they may feel or react to a certain situation. When one has empathy, the capacity to feel compassion is open.”  During my years as a First Sergeant I helped many Airman work through difficult situations.  For each one of those interactions, I always sought to understand before I acted or passed judgment.  When I put myself in their shoes I was better able to relate to their wants and needs. We’ve all seen how someone with a negative attitude can spread like wildfire throughout the work center bringing morale down with them.  Being emotionally intelligent allows us to affect change positively and help not only that person but those around them. 

Empathy and authenticity or EQ, can help us create a more connected environment here at Yokota or anywhere else we are needed as leaders. A constant theme that I have learned from my mentors on this journey to becoming SNCO is that some skills cannot be taught. Some leadership principles must be gained from experience, active listening and learning from others, no matter who they may be. Our unique and diverse force is comprised of people with different strengths, personalities and emotions which all affect the way we do work.  My message to you in today’s challenging times can best be summed up by the following quote: from David Caruso “It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head--it is the unique intersection of both.”

-Chief Master Sgt. Michael Wynne, 730th Air Mobility Squadron

 

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Are You a Club Member?

Yokota has one of the highest percentages of Club Members of any Air Force installation in the world. Over 50% of our eligible base population is a member of either the Officers’ Club or the Enlisted Club. And it makes sense, considering how much members save monthly at various FSS dining facilities or when making travel plans with Outdoor Recreation, Vehicle Ops, or ITT. 

At Yokota AB, Club Members also receive exclusive savings through monthly VIP coupons sent directly to members’ mailboxes.  Also, for every $1 that is spent of your club dues the FSS provides back $2 in benefits such as free breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  It pays to be a member!

Becoming a Club Member just got easier, too! Did you know that you’re no longer required to have a credit card to be a Club Member? 

New member applications are available on MyAirForceLife.com. Simply click on the “connect” button and applicants will be redirected to MemberPortal® where they can register their information. 

Are you a Club Member already? Register your existing membership with ease by also visiting MyAirForceLife.com, clicking “connect” and entering in the email address provided at the initial time of sign-up. 

By registering with MyAirForceLife.com prior to 31 August, existing members will automatically be entered to win $10,000. 

Call the Enlisted Club at 227-8829 or Officers’ Club at 225-8526 for questions or assistance with registering.

We look forward to continuing to serve you!

-Major Lon Hopkins, 374th Force Support Squadron deputy commander

 

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Embracing Times of Transition

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong stated that “times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits.  We can make our new normal any way we want.” 

As we continue to Develop World-Class Airmen here at the 374th Airlift Wing, I think we should reflect on this quote and ask ourselves how we are taking advantage of the changing times to take stock of ourselves, purging those habits that are holding us and our Airmen back, prioritizing their considerable talents, and bending the future to our will.

From my perspective in the 374th AMXS, I have seen a lot of change here at Yokota in the past four years. The biggest and best advertised change has been our ongoing transition from the tried and true C-130H to the new hotness, the C-130J; a technical marvel born of the computer age. 

I have witnessed leadership across the 374th Maintenance Group do exactly what Kristin Armstrong implores us, and have seized this time to better train, better communicate priorities, and ensure that the new normal is as close to the ideal state that it can be. Through this deliberate plan of action, the MXG is doing its part to ensure its maintainers, schedulers, analysts, and supply technicians to name a few keep the 374th Airlift Wing the dominant provider of tactical airlift over the majority of the globe in the years to come.

Another ever-changing aspect here in the Air Force are the Airmen that we are entrusted to lead.  Each new batch of airmen come to us better educated and better trained than the last. Those that complain about “Airmen these days…” are a cynical bunch. It is up to us to recognize this and leverage each airmen’s talents to propel our force into the 21st Century. 

Have you ever had a new airman in your work center ask a question, causing you to get back in the regs, only to discover that you yourself were doing something wrong? I know I have.  I also watch with envy as our youngest technicians on Yokota’s flightline diagnose aircraft discrepancies with a laptop, combing through codes and pinpointing faults. I could barely type when I entered the Air Force…  I’m sure that no matter where you work, you see the same kinds of changes and opportunities.

On the other hand, our Airmen, our greatest asset, are still the same in more ways than not to the very first airmen that escaped the bonds of earth in aircraft of canvas and wood. As Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright pointed out at his Yokota all-call, our airmen these days get into the same kinds of mischief that his counterparts did and those that came before him.  And though we all come from a million different corners of the globe, with a million different reasons for serving, we are all the same as we are bonded by our singular mission to project America’s airpower. 

For generations, our Air Force epitomized the nation’s motto, E Pluribus Unum.  Out of many, one.

In order to Develop World-Class Airmen, we need to capitalize on their strengths and use our commonality to communicate. Just as you did when you entered the Air Force, whether it was one, 10, or 30 years ago, they want their unique talents to be sought out and recognized. Just as you did, they want to be led by leaders that are passionate about their development. 

This kind of leadership cannot be done from behind a desk and this cannot be done through 140 character tweets. This kind of leadership takes going out and getting into our sections, work centers, and flightlines to truly understand the dynamic, ever changing environment that our people work in. It is then up to you to lead those in your charge to the new normal that you desire.

Ganbatte, Team Yokota!

-Senior Master Sgt. James Herron, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

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Townhall Q&A

Team Yokota,

It was my privilege to be able to speak to so many of you and hear your questions and concerns. Our spouses and dependents are some of the biggest contributors to the success of the military and we appreciate your support every day. I called this town hall so that we could give a little back to you in the form of information. I’ve asked experts across the wing to help me answer some of your questions that came up in our meeting. In some cases, similar questions were blended together for simplicity, and some personal questions that wouldn’t apply to a large audience were left out. 

Why do we need to have FSS and AAFES approval to have a home-based business and can that be addressed/streamlined?

By federal regulation, AAFES has the right to be the sole on-base provider of certain goods and services, so they are able to deny rights to conduct business on-base in some circumstances.  I will say that they provide services for the base that improve our daily lives and they also are a good source of jobs themselves.  Below is the applicable DOD Directive.

DoD Directive 1330.9

4. POLICY 

It is DoD policy that: 

4.1. The Armed Services exchange programs are vital to mission accomplishment and form an integral part of the non-pay compensation system for active duty personnel. As a military resale and category C revenue-producing MWR activity, the Armed Services exchanges have the dual mission of providing authorized patrons with articles of merchandise and services and of generating NAF earnings as a source of funding for DoD military MWR programs. 

4.2. The Armed Services exchanges shall be the primary resale activity on DoD installations for non-food merchandise and patron services. This primacy for resale authority extends to the use of any lawful means for selling merchandise or services.

School loan debt and interest costs families thousands of dollars while being stationed here; professional degrees often require a certain number of hours annually. Often employment in particular specialties is only offered as a volunteer position. Loan deferment doesn't stop interest from building on loans. Can this be addressed?

I acknowledge that this is a tough and real problem for many spouses. Unfortunately, this will not have an easy or fast fix.  Here at Yokota we just can’t offer all the jobs that are available stateside. However, I do plan to bring it up during upcoming meetings with legislators in Washington D.C., because the situation overseas is unique for spouses and we need to provide the best situation possible. There are not as many opportunities available as around a CONUS base, so please know that I will take this issue to high-level decision makers.

I applied for a substitute teaching job 6 months ago and have talked with the school secretaries and principals but have not heard response from them and they have no new news to share. 

Currently the hiring process for all federal positions is facing a significant backlog, and Yokota DODEA schools are no exceptionDODEA is working to complete hiring employees as quickly as possible.  Application to employment times can be up to 12 months. We reached out to DODEA in regard to this and they have provided the information below on the current hiring process.

“The hiring of substitute teachers is a priority for the DoDEA Pacific East District and the DoDEA schools on Yokota Air Base. Over the last two year the selection, hiring, and on boarding process has experienced delays across the entire DoDEA System. There are several places along the hiring path

that have contributed to the long delays.

 

“First, applicants must complete all the required paperwork and return the package to the school secretary. Applicants must then thoroughly complete the EQUIP package and submit it electronically to the DoDEA Office of Personnel Security.  Once an EQUIP package and finger prints are reviewed by the Personnel Security Office, the completed package is forward to the Office of Personnel Management for a background investigation and adjudication for eligibility for Child Care National Agency Check and Inquiries.

 

“This process is In accordance with Department of Defense Instruction 1402.5.  A Child Care National Agency Check and Inquiries background investigations are required for all individuals who have regular contact with children under 18 years of age. The background investigation can take for 120 days to onward to process. In some cases, it has taken a year for the entire process to be completed.

 

“The hiring process was disrupted by the government-wide hiring freeze that was experienced starting in January 2017. Please be aware that delays in hiring of substitute teachers has been elevated to the DoDEA HQ level. At this time we are tracking all requests for background clearance.”

 

When can we expect the East Side CDC to reopen?

The East Side CDC can be expected to reopen as soon as we have enough trained childcare providers. Many of the childcare providers we had PCSed away from Yokota and it has taken time to fill their positions, as those positions require careful screening for the safety of the children. At this time we are also looking at the possibility of adding off-base childcare options.  

I know that this can be a source of stress for families, and we are working the issue as fast as possible while keeping the safety of our children first.

How can we improve the family fitness room at the Samurai Fitness Center? Is there a possibility of childcare at the gym? Can we get a cable machine?

Continuous improvement is always a goal for us. At the moment, we plan to buy new gym equipment for the Samurai Fitness Center and plan to improve the equipment quality and variety in the family fitness room as well. However, with our current low staffing at the CDCs I do not see there being a high likelihood of being able to add childcare at the fitness center.

What legal resources are available to families who want to start online businesses?

Military OneSource (http://militaryonesource.mil) would be the best place to look, it has resources and ideas for spousal employment. Additionally, the Airman and Family Readiness Center has specialists to help with finance, budgeting, and employment. They can be reached at 042-507-6548 or DSN 225-8725.

Can we establish a forum or counsel for Yokota-based home businesses?

Yes. Forum or counsel for Yokota-based home businesses can be established independently as long as it meets the installation policies of private and public organizations on base. Please be reminded, however, that the Exchange has retail primacy on Army and Air Force installations by DOD regulation.  

You mentioned having a base-wide directory of different skills and certifications that spouses and others have on base. Could that be expanded to a directory of home-based businesses as well?

That is a great idea and it is something we’re working on, and hope to have more to you soon on our base-wide directory.

When will the August exercise take place and what will spouses need to have prepared to be ready?

The upcoming exercise is currently planned for August 17, and more information will become available shortly.

If there’s anything you feel like I didn’t answer, please contact me via the Commander’s Action Line, by commenting on this blog, or by reaching out to your unit’s key spouse. I’ll say again-if you haven’t, I highly encourage you to download the Yokota Connect App, available for free on the Android and iPhone stores.  It provides a wealth of information including phone numbers, news, operating hours, and so much more. Thanks for your time and I hope this is useful information!

 

- Col Ken Moss , 374th Airlift Wing Commander

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Peace of Mind Through Preparedness

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Peace of Mind Through Preparedness

As tensions increase throughout the pacific region, those of us stationed at Yokota AB find ourselves preparing for the worst should conflict arise. Multiple CBRNE and disaster preparedness exercises have re-focused our wing to ensure survivability and operability throughout a wide range of disaster scenarios.

While it is important for us to prepare for combat and natural disasters during duty hours, it is equally important to prepare action plans for our families and loved ones so they are taken care of should tragedy strike.  Having a solid action plan in place for our families will help give Yokota personnel the peace of mind that is needed to perform mission duties during a time of crisis.

 HH-60G arrives at US Embassy in Liberia to evacuate civilian personnel.  The 398th Air Expeditionary Group was based out of Sierra Leone to provide personnel recovery and emergency evacuation capability for the humanitarian assistance survey team in Liberia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Justin D. Pyle)

HH-60G arrives at US Embassy in Liberia to evacuate civilian personnel.  The 398th Air Expeditionary Group was based out of Sierra Leone to provide personnel recovery and emergency evacuation capability for the humanitarian assistance survey team in Liberia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Justin D. Pyle)

As a rescue pilot I know first-hand what a well thought out emergency preparedness plan can do to save lives and speed up the recovery or evacuation effort. 

Early in my career I was part of a Non-Combatant Emergency Evacuation (NEO) to evacuate several personnel from the US Embassy in Liberia. While under sniper fire my aircraft was forced to wait on the ground as unprepared civilians schlepped their suitcases and tennis rackets to the aircraft as if they were boarding a first class flight to a resort getaway. 

Not only was my flight crew put in danger due to the delay, the excess baggage meant fewer personnel could board the aircraft and be evacuated. This lack of preparation resulted in extra evacuation flights thus leaving civilian and military personnel in harm’s way longer than was necessary.  The evacuees were not in the right state of mind for an emergency evacuation and it made the event much more stressful than it needed to be.  

 Dependents of military members from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, wait to disembark from a C-17 Globemaster III after landing at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Md., April 1, 2016. Defense Department dependents in Adana, Izmir and Mugla, Turkey, were given an ordered departure by the State Department and secretary of defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Dependents of military members from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, wait to disembark from a C-17 Globemaster III after landing at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Md., April 1, 2016. Defense Department dependents in Adana, Izmir and Mugla, Turkey, were given an ordered departure by the State Department and secretary of defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Here are a few things you can do to be better prepared for a disaster situation.  Ensure you have a complete and up-to-date NEO folder, and review it with your family and the caretakers of your children.  The more familiarity they have with these government forms, the more at ease they will be when needing to produce them in a time of crisis.  Discuss the NEO process with family back home, and develop a communication plan, as this will help ease panic during a crisis situation.   Create a family action plan complete with “Go Bags” and pre-designated rally points. Program emergency contact numbers in your phone and brush-up on your self-aid buddy care and train your friends and family on SABC as well. Rescue and evacuation resources will be limited during a crisis.

Please do what you can to best prepare Team Yokota to take care of one another!

-Lt Col Scott Adams, 459 Airlift Squadron Director of Operations

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Are You Prepared for the Worst?

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Are You Prepared for the Worst?

Whether you and/or you're family are ready for it or not, Japan's rainy season is upon us. Along with this season comes potentially deadly tropical storms and typhoons that can cripple a city.

Just last year, Yokota was hit by Tropical Storm Mindulle leaving nearly 10 inches of rain behind after hitting the base with 35-mph winds for hours; causing over 300 Yokota Families to evacuate their homes for safety and comfort concerns. This makes it essential that you and your family are prepared in the event of a storm hits Yokota. 

Below you can find some tips to ensure readiness before, during and after a storm hits.

BEFORE

  • Review evacuation plan and assemble an emergency supply kit including:
    • Several days of food
    • Bottled water
    • Flashlights
    • Batteries
    • Portable radio
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of all on base natural disaster shelters.
  • Make a plan to care for your family members and pets in case of evacuation.
  • Anchor all outside items that are vulnerable to high winds or relocate items inside.
  • Secure your home or building by closing all exterior doors and windows.
  • Place sandbags in front of ground level exterior doors to prevent floods.
  • Fill privately owned vehicles (POVs) and government owned vehicles (GOVs) with fuel.
  • Make a record of your personal property and store important documents in a safe place. 
  • Take photos or videos of the exterior and interior of your home to record pre-storm condition.
  • Monitor AFN TV, Eagle 810, Yokota AB Facebook Page and the Commander's Channel.  

 

DURING

  • Stay indoors and away from windows, skylights or glass doors. 
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the first or second floor.  
  • To protect from flying debris, keep all curtains and blinds closed.
  • Do not go outside when the “eye of the storm” passes over. 
  • Monitor AFN TV, Eagle 810, Yokota AB Facebook Page and the Commander's Channel. 

 

AFTER

  • Only resume normal activities once “All Clear” notification has been given.
  • Drive only if absolutely necessary, avoid hazards and any flooded roads. 
  • If you evacuated your home, do not return until base leadership declares it safe to do so.
  • Beware of insects and animals driven to shelter or higher ground by the floodwaters.
  • When weather conditions permit, open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
  • Keep your families Informed that you are safe and tell them what has happened.
  • Report property damage, hazards or downed power lines to 374 CES at 225-5282 or 225-7310.
  • Monitor AFN TV, Eagle 810, Yokota AB Facebook Page and the Commander's Channel.

 

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Celebrate America!

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Celebrate America!

Independence Day is right around the corner and I think it is important to take a second and think about what that day truly represents. This year marks 241 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which ultimately gave birth to a new sovereign nation that we know as the United States of America, and better yet, the “Land of the Free”. The Declaration stated unequivocally: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The world, as we know it, is full of uncertainty, whether it be from political tensions, conflicts with other nations, climate change or other issues that exist around us, but the one thing that has never changed in my lifetime or generations before me is the freedom we maintain thanks to the courageous actions of our forefathers as well as the men and women who have paid for that freedom with tremendous sacrifice.

Everyone on this base is sacrificing daily for the freedom of millions of people back home. We sacrifice by being away from our friends and families, we sacrifice by answering the call to deploy down range, and we sacrifice by working long, tiring hours to ensure our mission gets done. For all of those uncertainties I mentioned before, we as a Wing, as a military and as Americans cannot afford to falter, and we will not fail. Our continued freedom depends on it.

So this year we are going to recognize what Independence Day stands for with our Celebrate America event, which will be held on June 30th at the Samurai Training Grounds. I understand that traditionally Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, but by holding this celebration on a Friday, instead of a Tuesday, it allows us the ability to get some people out of the office a little early to meet up with families and friends and check out the festivities and then put on an incredible fireworks display that night. I can’t think of a better way to kick-off a weekend. At the end of the day, I don’t think the actual day we celebrate is as important as the way we celebrate and being able to get as many people involved as possible. And trust me, our FSS professionals along with a bunch of other agencies on base are working hard to make sure that our Airmen and their families have a great time.

I encourage everyone to come out to Celebrate America, but if you cannot make it I encourage you to find the time to celebrate in your own way in remembrance of those who gave us our Declaration of Independence, which remains a beacon of liberty, the upholder of our divine unalienable rights, and the guardian of our independence.

Finally, I want to say thank you to all of the men and women of Team Yokota for everything you do to uphold our freedom.

-Col Kenneth Moss, 374th Airlift Wing Commander

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Feathered Prop Bar and Grill

Ok, so here comes my first BLOG…Blog, not exactly sure what that means, but writing I will go.  I will start by stating I fully understand the strategic importance of Yokota Air Base to our nation and our partners within the western Pacific Region.  I also understand how our day-to-day activities are critically important to the readiness and preparedness required to provide a rapid response to natural disasters, humanitarian aid/disaster relief functions or other more direct military operations.  Furthermore, I realize the aviation business is an inherently dangerous business and we must be skilled and diligent in the profession of aviation and aviation support.  And for the record, after three and half years I am very proud to have had the privilege to work side-by-side with the warriors of Yokota Air Base.

With all of that said, for a brief moment I want to go in a slightly different direction and talk about FUN!  That’s right, FUN!  And I’m not talking about the type of fun we have at wing staff meeting, or processing reports.  That’s work, just to be clear.  Instead I will talk about how living on base on Yokota has been fun.  After eighteen years of active duty service, Yokota was my family’s first experience of living on-base.  At first, the close proximity of the garden units took a little getting used to, but we were fortunate and had great neighbors.  Then shortly after we arrived, a friend showed me the Civil Engineering wood pile and from there our experience at Yokota greatly improved.  With a little creative construction we soon had a fire pit worthy to call our own.   Of course, no self-respecting fire pit gathering spot goes without a name, so we opened the, “Feathered Prop Bar and Grill.”  One of the coolest experiences of living on base has been the times when my wife and I simply lit a fire and plopped down in the backyard with a glass of wine.  Then as people wandered by, we would hail a greeting and offer a cold beer.  It didn’t take long before the backyard was filled with people and laughter. 

During the three and a half years we’ve lived here, the backyard fire pit has been the site of typhoon evacuation planning, a retirement ceremony, newcomer welcome dinners, several going away parties, promotion celebrations, the Chase Rice concert after party, Musashimurayama Friendship Club dinner and countless other unplanned events.  The greatest part of all these gatherings was the sense of community and togetherness that flowed.  You’d be amazed at how many people really do know the words to John Denver’s “Take me Home, Country Roads.”  A good brisket, chicken fried steak burn or hamburgers with all the sides and fixings people contributed made each and every meal seem like a Sunday Church gathering meal.  And who can forget a late night snack of bacon and pancakes cooked over an open fire!

Outdoor movies, karaoke with a broom, and the newlywed game often broke the ice and sparked conversation.  For me the part I most enjoyed about our imaginary bar and grill was the opportunity to hear other people’s stories.  A key point to remember is one must have the ability to laugh at yourself.  Let’s face it, we all make mistakes and have embarrassing moments, so have a little faith and share a tale.  So my parting advice to you, readers of this thing called a blog…get out, drag a grill out and have a block party.  Get to know your neighbors, share a burger, beer or coke and laugh with a friend.  Because part of building a strong community is the ability to connect with each other…and for me a key part of that came from the FUN we had around an old Weber grill turned fire pit.  Happy cooking!   

-LtCol Paul Kirk, 374th Ops Group Deputy Commander

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Building Partnerships One Note at a Time

Team Yokota,

 

Continuing Airlift Magazine’s series on “Strengthening Partnership,” today I will write about the efforts of the USAF Band of the Pacific to strengthen Air Force partnerships across Japan, throughout the PACAF AOR, and right here at Yokota.

One of the key missions of the USAF Band of the Pacific is building and strengthening the bonds of friendship between the American and Japanese people. The importance of this relationship was highlighted by Secretary of Defense James Mattis during his visit to Tokyo earlier this year when he stated “the U.S.-Japan alliance is critical to ensuring that this region remains safe and secure – not just now, but for years to come.” By presenting concerts of American music as uniformed active duty service members, we increase the Japanese public’s connection with U.S. military personnel and build bridges with local communities throughout the country. As we participate in Joint and Combined concerts with other U.S. and Japanese military service bands, we provide the public with a visible demonstration of the partnership and interoperability of our forces and the steady commitment of our governments to mutual security. One example of this joint interaction is an upcoming series of public concerts featuring members of the United States Army, Navy, and Air Force alongside personnel from the Kaijōjieitai (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force) and Kokujieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) - tangible evidence of true partnership in action.

The band is committed to fulfilling our part of the PACAF partnership strategy throughout the entire Indo-Asia-Pacific region. One way we accomplish this is by planning missions in combination with ongoing exercises or key events throughout the AOR. Examples include providing a community outreach component for the annual U.S. Forces Korea and Republic of Korea KEY RESOLVE joint exercise and participating in the 2016 Townsville (Australia) International Air Show which featured combined concerts presented by the USAF Band of the Pacific and the Royal Australian Air Force Band. These partnership-building efforts support recommendations from a 2016 DOD-commissioned Center for Strategic and International Studies independent study which suggested: “Exercises should include whole-of-government engagement, creating institutional connections and individual trust before a crisis occurs.” The band also routinely teams with United States Embassies and Consulates throughout the region to help meet diplomatic needs and create new opportunities for building cross-cultural trust. This year alone, in addition to the already mentioned engagements, the band will expand strategic communication effects with targeted outreach in China, India and Vietnam.

In his blog post on 6 April 2017, Lt Col James Cunningham, 374th Comptroller Squadron Commander, wrote that we should “also continue strengthening our partnerships with each other…taking care of Airmen!” Whether it is protocol support for events such as Community College of the Air Force or Airmen Leadership School graduations or through ceremonial support for changes of command, the arrival of new capabilities such as the C-130J Super Hercules, or the rendering of final honors to a fallen comrade, supporting and strengthening our Team Yokota partners is high priority for the Band of the Pacific.

In his post, Col Cunningham also wrote: “Someone once told me that only senior leadership can truly affect our strategic partnerships here in Japan. I humbly submit that is simply not true!” This applies to the band’s outreach efforts. Although it is true that having senior leadership at public events helps demonstrate PACAF’s commitment to partnership building, everyone at Yokota can be part of that endeavor.  Band of the Pacific concerts provide a wonderful, “pre-made” opportunity for service members to engage with members of the host community who have shown, through their attendance at a performance, their willingness to engage with Americans and hear our story.

With two rock bands, a jazz band, a brass quintet, and a saxophone quartet, chances are that in the near future the band will be presenting an outreach event that appeals to your tastes within your local community. As always, there is no cost for admission to Band of the Pacific concerts. Great live music and the opportunity to interact with the people of our host nation – partnership building has never been so enjoyable!

-MSgt Scott Wise, Staff Arranger, USAF Band of the Pacific

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Yokota Air Base introduces Rapid Airfield Damage Repair

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Yokota Air Base introduces Rapid Airfield Damage Repair

Greetings, Samurai warriors!  The purpose this blog is to introduce the Wing to the newest Civil Engineer capability, Rapid Airfield Damage Repair (RADR).

            You may have noticed a great deal of heavy equipment parked around the base and the fact that the BXtra has closed.  This equipment is to enable our engineers to recover the runway in the event an adversary tries to deny its use by cratering.  We have partnered with AAFES and consolidated facilities in order to improve your customer experience (e.g. you will be able to buy a birthday card AND a toy under the same roof) and take care of the new equipment by converting the BXtra to a warehouse. Currently in the BXtra parking lot you can see several of the 181 vehicles, including the mobile volumetric mixer concrete plants that will be kept inside the newly converted storage space once CE is done remodeling.     

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RADR is a response to the increased threat Yokota now faces from adversaries in the region.  RADR is significantly different from our legacy Rapid Runway Repair (RRR) concept of operations in that, with RRR, we anticipated three large craters that would be temporarily filled with gravel, requiring constant maintenance.  For the new RADR concept we expect hundreds of craters ranging in size from a few feet to surface spalls. With RADR, the repairs will be semi-permanent by using rapid-set concrete.

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As you can imagine the amount of equipment to fix hundreds of craters is vast.  Around our contingency towers in the east housing area you can see 45 CONEX shipping containers full of rapid-set concrete mix. 

 

We have also converted the third floor of the south parking garage on main base to store many of the 274 attachments for the Bobcat, Case and Volvo excavators and skid steer loaders. 

 

Of course fielding a new capability is not without its challenges.  The 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron has gained vehicle authorizations increasing their total War Reserve Materiel (WRM) authorizations to 413 without any additional manning.  We have recognized this challenge and are advocating for 10 to 12 full time personnel for maintenance. 

The RADR kit’s rapid setting concrete has a 5-year shelf life.  Therefore another exciting aspect of this new capability is that, starting in 2018, CES will be able to utilize and replenish 20% of the concrete annually.  This will allow us to do work on the base and airfield to make Yokota even more ready to fight tonight.

 

Combat Engineers…Combat Ready!

 

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