509th Medical Group ceremony stands up dual healthcare model for Airmen, families

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The 509th Medical Group and base leaders commemorated the group’s official reorganization according to a new two-squadron concept during a ceremony Aug. 14, 2019, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

The ceremony officially introduced the activation of the 509th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron and the 509th Healthcare Operations Squadron.

Under the new Air Force Medical Reform model, dedicated provider care teams will be aligned to an Operational Medical Readiness Squadron primarily focused on proactively treating active-duty Airmen and improving their availability to support the warfighting mission. Care for non-active duty patients, primarily the families of service members and military retirees, will be handled by separate provider teams aligned to a Health Care Operations Squadron.

The event also inactivated the 509th Medical Support Squadron and 509th Medical Operations Squadron, which the newly formed units are replacing. Personnel from these units have been seamlessly redistributed and absorbed during the restructure.

Looking back on the history of the medical group, Col. Chrystal D. Henderson, commander of the 509th Medical Group, said that the unit has already moved and changed structure several times -- from its activation on March 1, 1959, as the 817th Medical Group at Pease Air Force Base, New Hampshire, to its arrival at Whiteman Air Force Base in 1990.

“The 509th Medical Group is undergoing yet another monumental change in its structure, but the inactivation of (these units) in no way erases the history of these two Squadrons, which between them have 12 meritorious unit and ten outstanding unit awards,” she said. “[Our teams] will continue to provide the highest quality of trusted care to all our beneficiaries ... The reorganization will enhance the medical groups ability to enable strategic nuclear operations, lethal global strike and agile combat support through full-spectrum medical readiness and patient-centered care.”

The new model is based on a test case at the 366th Medical Group, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, that began in summer 2018. Launched with the goal of returning Airmen to duty as quickly as possible, the new two-squadron construct showed a boost to active-duty member readiness, Henderson said, and was subsequently adopted Air Force-wide in 2019.

“The goals of this reorganization are to increase lethality, proactively manage active-duty care to rapidly restore readiness and deployablity, and to create a rapport between the primary management team, the commanders and individual Airman.”

Working on the reorganization implementation since March 2019, Henderson said the ceremony only finalized reorganization and introduced two new squadrons officially to Team Whiteman – patient care, however, continued largely as before.

“The Squadron names may change, but what we do day in and day out never will,” Henderson said. “This change will simply give us the opportunity to build on our proud, diverse, award-winning history.”

The 509th Medical Group supports the 509th Bomb Wing and Whiteman Air Force Base tenant units by providing trusted medical support, community health and wellness, and developing and sustaining mission-ready medics to support Combatant and Joint Force Commanders. Additionally, we provide health services for more than 12,000 beneficiaries. For more information on the unit or for information on your medical benefits, visit: https://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/MTF/Whiteman/