NEWS | April 28, 2020

Airmen Caring for Airmen

By Airman 1st Class Erin Baxter 15th Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Air Force operations continue, with some modifications to keep Airmen safe and healthy.

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, service members traveling from outside of Oahu, are placed on a restriction of movement to monitor for symptoms before returning to the mission, based on DoD guidance.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam established the COVID-19 Support Team to ensure personnel placed in ROM are cared for.

“This global pandemic is historic, alarming, and extremely challenging for our nation,” said Chief Master Sgt. Steven O. Koehler Jr., 15th Wing command chief. “Our volunteers have unselfishly stepped up to the plate to show that we are in this together. They bring convenience to those that are not able to travel between public shopping facilities and they also bring that positive face-to-face interaction that provides a huge morale boost.”

“The world is fighting an unconventional war against a faceless enemy,” added Master Sgt. Jason L. Gabel, 15th Medical Group first sergeant, and COVID-19 Support Team manager. “It is critical to ensure the health and safety of our Airmen and that is why the COVID-19 Support Team was created.”

The CST, composed of Airmen and Sailors, delivers three meals from the Hale Aina Dining Facility and essentials to personnel placed on ROM, to ensure their daily needs are met.

“I feel like I’m making a difference by being able to assist incoming Airmen,” said Airman 1st Class Andrea Mann, 392nd Intelligence Squadron communications signal intelligence analyst and CST volunteer. “In this way, we let them know they are welcomed onto our base and that they will be taken care of.”

In addition to providing needs for their physical well-being, the team also assists with the mental well-being of the Airmen.

“Not only are we providing meals, but we’re there to provide a wellness check,” said Staff Sgt. Karl L. Gifford, 535th Airlift Squadron Globemaster C-17 loadmaster and volunteer. “We need to make sure that we care about and check on them in these times where they may instead wish to be with their families.”

Taking care of Airmen and families is one of the 15th Wing’s priorities. Although Airmen in ROM are physically distanced from their fellow Airmen, the CST ensures they are still cared for.

“I’m giving my fellow wingmen a positive perspective on how the Air Force handles crisis situations and still manages to help their people,” Mann said. “I feel proud to be a part of this team.”