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Keeping Airmen fit to fight: Dyess’ New Operational Support Team

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sophia Robello
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The Dyess Air Force Base Operational Support Team has begun embedding into units to promote physical and mental well-being, supporting Airmen and keeping them fit to fight.

“OSTs typically consist of four medical members: a physical therapist, strength and conditioning coach, team lead and mental health professional such as a clinical psychologist in our instance,” said Capt. Micah Easterling, 7th Medical Group physical therapist. “Our main goal is to treat individuals holistically and focus on their physical and mental readiness.”

The Dyess OST embeds into different squadrons and shops on base for a period of three to six months, providing unit-specific interventions that benefit the Airmen involved. The team aims to take care of people and further develop units, reducing the number of physical and mental wellness issues that often prevent Airmen from deploying.

“What we’re trying to bring to Dyess is a preventative force and a force multiplier for the squadrons,” said Easterling. “We find that when people are aware of and educated about the physical and mental resilience resources available to them, it acts as a preventative buffer for most issues and reduces the need for them to seek medical care.”

The Dyess OST offers preventative care that helps break down barriers and challenges Airmen might face when dealing with medical care, such as difficult processes for approving medical procedures and stigmas around mental health assistance. Recently, the team embedded with the 9th Bomb Squadron, and, as a result, reduced their physical injury profiles by 30% and increased the average physical fitness assessment score by 30%.

“Specifically, for Dyess, we realized there’s a need that we can fulfill,” said Susannah Bird, 7th MDG operational support team specialist. “We visit your shops, build relationships with your personnel and identify areas where we can step in and help.”

The team plans to support more Dyess units in the future to develop and spread unit-level wellness initiatives that will sustain themselves long after their embedding period ends.

“I think this will be the first time Dyess will have a full contingent of OST personnel, so in a way we’re in our infancy,” said Lt. Col. Samuel Tobler, 7th MDG clinical psychologist. “Our goals for the future are all about identifying units that not only have a high need but also a high desire to implement these unit-level changes. The key to success within OSTs is the engagement and investment of unit leaders in making those changes."