MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
Minot Air Force Base was recently selected as a beta test installation for Task Force True North, an initiative that strives to promote Airmen resiliency by using a more proactive approach to provide mental health within units.
“We are looking for ways to enhance Airmen well-being and resiliency and decrease negative outcomes,” said Col. Mark J. Ramsey, Headquarters Air Force operations division chief and team lead for the TFTN site visits. “Our long term objective is to have a fit and healthy Air Force.”
The idea stemmed from an initiative implemented for special operations units at Hurlburt Field Air Force Base, Florida. Each squadron has a five-person medical team embedded into their unit. This team includes a physiologist, nutritionist, psychiatrist, among others. The purpose behind an embedded team is to make helping agencies more readily available to Airmen who return from combat deployments.
Improvements in the Hurlburt Airmen’s overall health was recognized quickly, and caught the eye of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, who assembled a team to make this program available at all Air Force installations.
The charter to initiate the program was signed by Goldfein in December of 2016, and the program is currently in part three of the four-part implementation process; the site visits.
With Minot AFB being named one of the four beta test installations, the TFTN team visited to help determine the concept operations and logistics to begin implementing the program. Beale AFB, California, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska and Whiteman AFB, Missouri were also named beta test sites.
Minot AFB specifically will receive 20 people; 16 licensed clinical social workers and four mental health providers. Professional medical teams will embed with the 5th Mission Support Group, 5th Maintenance Group, 91st Security Forces Group and 91st Maintenance Group. The teams will be hands-on and interact with the Airmen on a daily basis.
“They definitely will not be sitting in an office waiting for someone to come to them,” Ramsey said. “Their job is to be out where their Airmen work, circling around and providing counsel.”
In addition to the embedded health teams, Minot will also receive a program manager who will oversee the implementation process. There will also be a streamlined process to introduce the program to new Airmen arriving on station and a religious support team to assist the current base chaplain corps.
“A whole lot of good can come from a program like this, we’ve seen it,” Ramsey said. “If we can figure out how to do it here, everywhere else is going to be easy.”
The TFTN team estimates the program manager will be in place by the end of August and the teams will arrive no later than spring of 2018.
“The national defense strategy says, ‘Above all else, we will take care of our people,’” Ramsey said. “That’s exactly what we are trying to do.”