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MDG establishes embed program, increases readiness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Gillespie

In the future fight, empowered and resilient Airmen are essential. As technology advances, the need for mentally and physically fit Airmen becomes paramount.

To that end, the 23rd Medical Group introduced a highly mobile Operational Support Team, small-unit embeds that flex to the needs of squadrons around the base to enhance fitness routines and workplace health, while building relationships to improve healthcare accessibility.

“Here at Moody we are focused on having Airmen that are retainable, deployable and able to do their job,” said Capt. Kristina Gardella, OST mental health lead. “So anything that's going to help members check the box of what they need to be deployable, or also get in the best shape they need, or in the best mental health shape that they need to be able to do their job – we're really focused on making sure we're able to do our mission, both here and anywhere else that it sends us.”

Since its inception in November of 2023, the OST embeds extend beyond traditional healthcare roles; this innovative approach not only promotes physical well-being but also strengthens the overall resilience and readiness of Team Moody's Airmen.

The team has the capacity to offer a variety of educational and skill classes as well as offering coaching that’s tailored to a unit’s mission requirements, whether it be related to resiliency, sleep hygiene, work-life balance, relationships, or stress decompression.

Gardella explained that the program was organized to help in the two highest areas, mental health and physical therapy, which is where sustainment comes in.

“We are also heavily focused on sustainment,” said Thomas McLean, OST strength and conditioning coach. “What that looks like is getting in and teaching PTL’s (Physical Training Leaders) how to sustain the transformation as far as getting out there and leading PT properly and doing correct movements.”

The team is currently embedded in the 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron. They’ll remain with the squadron anywhere from three to six months, then will rotate to a new squadron.

Once all positions are filled, the team will consist of a team lead, physical therapist, a strength and conditioning coach, a psychologist, and a social worker. In addition to McLean and Gardella, the team includes Maj. Adam Fry, Physical Therapist, and Michael Renteria, team lead.

“This is a great initiative to capitalize on Col. Sheets’ priorities of preparing the force, supporting the force and strengthening the family,” Gardella said. “OST is a multidisciplinary team. It's made up of strength and conditioning, physical therapy and mental health, so you're getting a wraparound service brought directly to you.

Gardella goes on to explain how the OST initiative strengthens the force and supports the people.

“How do we make sure they can complete their mission? By providing direct access to skilled providers that are licensed in the area, making it to where no referrals are needed which makes the process more smooth and possible to capitalize on what's already working in the units, strengthen that, and assist with anything else they might be struggling with.”