14th MDOS departments cover wide range of responsibilities

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Keith Holcomb
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The Kortiz Clinic on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, is home to 14th Medical Group, who’s Airmen are responsible for taking care of thousands of Airmen, their family members and retirees.

Within the 14th MDG resides the 14th Medical Operations Squadron which includes departments such as the family health clinic, flight medicine, dental, mental health, public health, bioenvironmental engineering, optometry and aerospace and operational physiology.

"We touch the mission on this base in a lot of different ways,” said Lt. Col. Tracy Snyder, 14th MDOS commander. “We are tied into helping create pilots by taking care of the students themselves, the Airmen that get them through training, families and retirees.”

An Airman's journey to find out what's wrong or be cleared for training begins at the front desk, speaking to an office manager.

Senior Airman Jacob Caruthers, 14th MDOS Family Health office manager said he enjoys working the desk, because he helps create access for patients to be seen by the Kortiz Clinic staff.

Caruthers and his co-workers work hard to help patients with their medical issues and concerns, and will give directions on where to go or help schedule an appointment.

The dental flight is the only 14th MDOS flight located on the second floor. They have multiple dentists and technicians ready to help with tooth aches, fillings, wisdom tooth removal and more.

Below the dental flight is the bioenvironmental engineering team. These Airmen are responsible for making sure the aircraft’s air supply is working properly, and also testing water and the air on base to ensure neither is contaminated, allowing the pilot training mission to continue. Bio-engineering Airmen are also responsible for conducting gas mask fittings for Airmen.

Around the corner from the bio-engineering flight is physical therapy. A small office with an officer and technician, capable of helping active-duty, family members and retirees get back on their feet, better, faster and stronger. The physical therapy team sees anywhere from 2,000-3,000 patient visits annually.

Neighboring physical therapy is the mental health office. Mental health service specialist Senior Airman Robert Patterson said, mental health is similar to a broken bone, “You wouldn’t avoid the hospital if you had a broken body part, so why wait to treat a mental health issue.”

Mental health’s focus is to get Airmen back on track however they can; working with individuals through their Behavior Health Optimization and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment programs, one-on-one counseling and therapy sessions, pre or post-deployment processing, even counseling for couples.

Optometry and Public Health are located past the pharmacy, working in close-quarters, helping Team BLAZE see clearly and educating the base on health and safety standards.

The optometry clinic is able to give prescriptions or referrals when necessary.

Public health briefs Team BLAZE on health safety risks in the local area, ensures the general health of the base is great, provides referrals to other clinics if necessary and ensures nobody has or is vulnerable to preventable illnesses at home or while traveling.

Aerospace and operational physiology is the only detached office and is located near the flying training squadrons. They teach the first week of pilot training, giving student pilots the tools and knowledge on the human weapon system they will need to perform safely and efficiently during training missions and operational missions down range alike.

In the coming months these units duties will remain the same, but their commands will be shifted.

“The 14th Medical Operations Squadron is transforming to improve operational medical readiness and duty availability for active duty personnel while continuing to ensure the delivery of high quality care,” Snyder said. “These changes are driven by the secretary of defense’s release of a standardized retention policy for non-deployable service members, which established standardized retention criteria and aimed to reduce the number of non-deployable members and improve readiness.”