An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Wing sustains steady growth for 18 months, reaching new heights in Airmen Medical Readiness

  • Published
  • By Bradley J. Clark
  • 908th Airlift Wing

A key mantra of the Air Force Reserve Command is that its members can answer the nation’s call with 72 hours’ notice. For that to be true, members have to be deemed medically ready to accomplish the mission.

Readiness has many different factors to it; does the Airman have the proper training and are they fully qualified? Do they have the right equipment for the mission? Are their affairs in order; pay, insurance, and family care plans among other things?

A vital aspect of being able to make that 72-hour notice is medical readiness. The 908th Airlift Wing has made Airmen’s Individual Medical Readiness a priority, which has seen a steady increase for the last 18 months and is now leveling off at percentages not seen in six years.

In July of 2022, the wing held a strategic alignment conference attended by leaders from every level of the unit, from squadron to wing, to set the wing’s overall reason for existing into words.

During that time the wing developed a new mission statement, vision statement, and priorities for the unit.

At the same time, then 908th Airlift Wing Commander, Col. Craig Drescher, was also adjusting his priorities as a leader. In August 2022, Drescher stated his vision and goals to the wing during an hour-long interview in which he explained that the transitionary period the wing was in was the perfect time to get back to basics. Some of the items touched on were improving fitness standards, enlisted and officer performance reports, uniform dress and appearance, military customs and courtesies, and individual medical readiness.

While almost all those areas have seen a marked improvement during the last year and a half, one of the most successful and sustainable improvements has been the unit’s IMR.

The Senior Medical Administrator for the 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Maj. Myte Dahl, has been with the wing for three years now and has seen the efforts to improve throughout that time.

“Col. Secraw [former 908th ASTS commander] and I brought the process with us from our bases to improve the approach to get us out of the hole,” explained Dahl. “Col. Casey Burril [former 908th wing deputy commander] was the mule that held all of the squadron commanders accountable to ensure members were getting vaccines, Periodic Health Assessments and other items in a timely manner at the Military Treatment Facility.”

Looking at data reaching back to the beginning of 2018, the 908th has had some stretches where it has reached the Air Force Reserve Command’s goal of having 80 percent or more of its members medically ready to deploy, some lasting as long as three to five months at a time.

Once COVID-19 hit Alabama’s river region, in early 2020, the wing saw a drop off, last time being above the AFRC goal was in March 2020 when the wing was at 80.3 percent. Since then, the wing had remained below the 80 percent goal for 28 months, reaching a six year low in January 2021 when only 43 percent of the wing was medically ready to deploy.

After ending 2021 at 62 percent medically ready, the wing has been on the rise to get to the 80 percent mark and then sustaining that mark.

In July of 2022, the wing reached 81 percent of its members being medically ready to deploy, a milestone that had significant emotions throughout the wing.

“It was awesome,” remembers Dahl.  “A lot of hard work went into getting the process right and getting the right people in place to ensure medical info was timely uploaded.”

And the wing’s IMR hasn’t dropped below that number since, hitting the 90 percent mark in March of 2023, and reaching a peak of 92 percent in May, now having leveled off and holding steady at 90 percent from June through today.

“This is fantastic,” said Dahl. “Being able to keep this going is a testament to the purpose driven results.”

The wing has accomplished and sustained this success by implementing a number of measures and countermeasures to help ingrain the importance into its culture.

Units throughout the wing must ensure that members are correctly coded with regard to deployments, and they are required to inform the 908th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and the 908th Force Support Squadron’s military personnel flight of a change in a member’s status with regard to things like transferring to the Individual Ready Reserve or discharges. Unit Health Monitors schedule appointments for their members that have requirements that are measured for IMR.

“Col. Burril has to be given credit in leading the charge of getting all the squadron commanders on task to ensure members were aware of what they needed, and where to go to get that accomplished,” explained Dahl.

Having measures and countermeasures can only help so much. To really reach and sustain the success seen in the last 18 months, the entire wing had to get behind the back to basics focus and understand the why behind the importance of things like IMR, which they have.

“Following this recipe has yielded great results for the wing,” closed Dahl.