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May Commander's Corner

South Carolina Air National Guard portrait of U.S. Air Force Col. Keith Miller, commander of the 169th Operations Group, from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., September 30, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Megan Floyd/Released)

South Carolina Air National Guard portrait of U.S. Air Force Col. Keith Miller, commander of the 169th Operations Group, from McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., September 30, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Megan Floyd/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

We’re in the serious business of defending our nation and its interests at home and abroad.  Before deploying, we ensure that our affairs are in order in case, God forbid, something bad happens. In the last three years, we’ve had five Swamp Foxes who have died or been seriously injured. In many of those cases the individual, whether single or married, had not taken all of the necessary measures to take care of themselves and/or their families/survivors. In some instances, these factors have put the Airmen and their families at a huge disadvantage and the SCANG at a potential liability. A comprehensive Wing initiative is on the way soon, but don’t wait to take the appropriate action.

First is insurance. Servicemembers Group Life Insurance is an outstanding benefit – so important that we actually have to opt out of it. Designating beneficiaries is an important decision for life insurance and other assets. Changes for SGLI can currently be made at 169th Force Support Squadron Customer Service. Standby for the rollout of an SGLI Online Enrollment System, hopefully designed by the folks at Travelocity and not the ones who made DTS!

Every American adult is required to have health insurance. If your parent’s health insurance plan covers dependents, you probably can remain on it until you turn 26. Plans vary, though, so have your parents confirm your coverage. If not, it is your responsibility to have health care coverage. This could be catastrophic coverage, something available from your civilian employer or some form of Tricare. Tricare Reserve Select is an outstanding option for military folks, especially those who move between various civilian and/or military pay statuses. From “The Force” at the 169th FSS:


Our folks can purchase TRS coverage for when they are NOT on active duty. Member-only and member-and-family coverage is available. The premium-based plan offers the same sort of comprehensive coverage as TRICARE Standard (with similar deductibles, etc.). Enrollment takes place online ONLY; just go to TRICARE's website or DMDC.OSD.MIL and select "Purchase Coverage" (you'll need your CAC or MyPay account info to gain access).  When members enroll, they must pay an initial two-month premium payment. Member-only is $47.82/month. Member+family is $217.51/month.

Next is a Power of Attorney.  These can perform a variety of functions. As Col. Gentile famously asked over in Egypt one time after a long silence (really), “Can my wife use her Power of Attorney to sell our house?” Why yes she can! Your needs will vary, but there are a variety of ways to make your intent known with regard to medical decisions, beneficiaries, who you want to raise your kids and/or animals, etc. Stop by the JAG office and they’ll be happy to help.

Let’s talk about making good decisions. 
Safety folks talk about, “Gear, Plan, Skills.”  Colonels Ar

Colonels Armstrong, Bridgers and Dean (495th FG/CC) all ride motocross. They are all very skilled and ride in a controlled environment, but they’ve all crashed with varying injuries that would have been more severe had they not been wearing full protective gear. Motorcycle helmet wear is not mandatory in South Carolina, but it is if you are a military member.  DoDI 6055.04 states, “All military personnel at any time, on or off a DoD installation.” AFI 91-207 states “All AF military personnel (including ANG and USAFR) any time, on or off a Department of Defense (DoD) installation.” A helmet looks cooler than a crushed skull unless you’re Gary Busey.


A plan includes where, when, with whom, in what weather, what time of day, etc. you chose to do something, in this case ride a motorcycle. Riding with others is a good idea. Based on our track record, riding on a Friday night, on the highway or a back road is not. It’s normally not you but the drivers and environment around you that you need to plan for.


Regarding skills, motorcycle training is required - initial and refresher every five years, regardless of where you ride. McEntire offers Basic Rider Course I and II and Sportbike Riders Course several times throughout the year. It is free to military members, Air Force and Army civilians and our state employees and dependents. Guard folks are offered RSD, PT, AT days, etc. to attend rather than pay $300 for the course at Midlands Tech or elsewhere. Our instructors are offered the same pay options and/or simply volunteer and run one of the best programs around. Even better, some insurance companies give a 10% discount for those who have completed an official MSF course.  

Please meet your responsibilities to yourself and your family. In the meantime, bring your kids to the STEM event May 5, enjoy Family Day activities afterward and be part of a great Air Show!  Remember, the most important ingredient in a good Air Show is (planned) FIRE! 

Semper Primus!