Deployment processing at McChord aims for efficiency, less stressful

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Deployment is a reality every Airman has to face while serving. 

Fortunately, constant throughout the entire deployment process is a support network available to Airmen, from the many pre-deployment briefings open to Airmen and their families to the unit deployment manager who helps ensure Airmen's pre-deployment checklists are current, said Richard Van Pelt, the 62nd Mission Support Squadron UDM. 

The pre-deployment checklist makes sure an Airman's finances are in order and legal matters such as wills and powers of attorney are in place. The list also ensures Airmen are current with their medical and dental checkups and weapons and combat training.
UDMs usually work behind the scenes to ensure the deployment process runs smoothly, said Mr. Van Pelt. 

"We're the liaisons between the agencies and our Airmen who need to get prepared to be deployed," he said. 

By the time Airmen reach the deployment line, the list is ready to go and just needs to be looked over, said Stacey Poland, 62nd Airlift Wing UDM. 

"It's just a matter of double checking your I's and crossing your T's," he said.
In addition to making sure their checklists are in order and picking up their deployment folders, Airmen must also get equipped. 

"We are the last stop for Airmen," said Master Sgt. James Kibbee, 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron. 

Airmen receive a helmet, web belt, canteen, gas mask and weapon, he said. 

Those being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq have to take their weapons with them, said Mr. Van Pelt. 

Airmen receive their heavy equipment, on the other hand, at the theater distribution center once they reach their deployment destination, said Sergeant Kibbee. 

By carrying two bags and their weapon instead of four or five bags packed with combat gear, it makes life much easier for Airmen traveling across the country to deploy, said Sergeant Kibbee. 

"The mental fatigue of lugging around the extra bags is a lot off their chest," he said. 

In addition, it also saves the Air Force a large sum of money because it avoids paying for the extra bags, said Mr. Van Pelt. 

"We make them feel at ease," he said. 

McChord's Airmen and Family Readiness Center also plays a large part in preparing Airmen and their families for deployment. In addition to hosting the deployed families dinner each quarter, the center also hosts a family mass readiness briefing the third Wednesday of each month at the base theater. The briefing is a good way for Airmen and their spouses to understand what the process is if there is an emergency, said Russ Moreira a 62nd MSS community readiness technician. 

At each briefing, families have an opportunity to hear from all the servicing agencies, he said. Experts in the areas of finance, casualty and mortuary affairs and legal issues are on hand to answer any questions Airmen and their spouses might have. Representatives from the Red Cross and the child development center are also in attendance, Mr. Moreira said. 

Additionally, Airmen and their spouses get a chance to meet the "key spouse" for their respective squadron, who serves as a liaison between the other spouses in the squadron and a friendly face, said Mr. Moreira. 

"They're there to help educate them on what military life is like and to help them deal with the loneliness," he said. 

Each week the center offers additional readiness briefings every Tuesday and Thursday to inform spouses on the services it offers. 

Spouses also have the opportunity to borrow cameras and camcorders to record videos and take pictures, which the center will transfer to compact discs and videotapes for them to keep, Mr. Moreira said.