Pa. ANG's medical group values vision, teamwork for mission success

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond
  • 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
Every day, 111th Attack Wing Guardsmen here are controlling flight and surveillance in austere locations, providing construction to impoverished areas around the globe or fending off cyberattacks from nefarious predators world-wide.

To help ensure success, Airmen in the Guard are kept physically ready by one of the reserve military's most important units: the medical groups.

"I see the medical group as what fuels the pulse, keeping the heartbeat of the Wing going," said Master Sgt. Roberto Brabham, 111th Medical Group health systems technician here. "We value the Air Force's greatest asset, which is its people."

The 111th Medical Group functions by implementing the Wing's vision statement, embodying its three principles: Air Force compliance, mission excellence and Airmen wellness. But even with these guiding values, reserve forces - like the 111th ATKW - are challenged to remain consistent with active-duty military standards. The 111th MDG manages by using a teamwork-based tenet as the backbone of their efforts.

Brabham continued, "Whether it's monitoring the day-to-day medical readiness or something more acute, all aspects of medical come together to work with the members, units and the commanders."

Senior Master Sgt. Darlene Groben, 111th MDG nursing superintendent and noncommissioned officer in charge of flight operational medicine, mirrored Brabham's statement regarding mission excellence and compliance.

"My job is to make sure that the [pilots] are able to fly and be on Title 10 (active duty) orders," said Groben. "When we work as a team, that's how we accomplish all the facets of medical. So even though I do flight medicine, I also do the nursing portion for non-flyers and help take care of new members."

As an additional challenge, the Pa. Guard's medical group Airmen are often responsible for multiple roles and programs that would be separate entities in other military branches. The Air Force bionenvironmental field is one such career. It's an expansive program that touches every Air National Guardsmen's profession.

According to Master Sgt. Joe Runewicz, 111th MDG noncommissioned officer in charge of bioenvironmental engineering and occupational environmental health manager here, his duties range from fetal protection to gas mask fit tests and more.

"In addition to what people are most aware of, this field is also concerned with occupational hazards and health hazards...This can consist of a hearing conservation program with [combat arms training and maintenance] or working with public health to get our deployers spun up and out the door, for example," he said.

But what it all comes down to is taking care of the Wing's Airmen. For the senior noncommissioned officers (SNCOs) interviewed, this part of the Wing's vision statement is twofold. The medical group SNCOs explained that the first set of Airmen is those within the medical specialty, while the second consists of Guardsmen throughout the 111th ATKW.

"We make sure that our Airmen are trained properly, so that they can do their job, feel confident and well-rounded in that job," said Groben. "If we do this, they will be grounded and perform better."

Brabham added to Groben's comment by saying that it is a SNCO's paramount responsibility to train medical Airmen to execute duties to their utmost ability. Likewise, he said, is ensuring the entire Wing is medically fit to operate at full capacity.

For the 111th MDG, empathy for their Guardsmen may be the key to realizing mission success for their group and the entire Wing.

"The medical group has compassion for people," said Brabham. "We strive to let members know they can trust us with their medical conditions and we'll look out for their best interest...we're patient advocates."