FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Col. Ryan Samuelson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, held a town hall meeting alongside fellow leaders from across Team Fairchild to discuss base-wide changes and topics of interest for all who work or live on base at the Red Morgan Center, Nov. 29.
Topics varied from youth programs to winter safety and drew attention from many groups, who had both professional and personal investment in the answers. Samuelson implored all of Team Fairchild to provide questions and feedback to help him and fellow leaders identify and address issues as they arise. The main topics discussed and questions and answers presented at the town hall are below:
Child & youth program price changes:
The fee policy for the 2017-2018 school year is delayed, but to continue providing equitable quality of programs to base residents and competitive salaries for Child Development Center employees with the 2018 Washington State minimum wage increase, prices are expected to go up to accommodate the required personnel, materials and spaces. The Child Development Center is hiring. For more information or to apply, go to:
Red Morgan Center renovations for the new “Fun Spot” entertainment area:
With the structural failure of the old Fun Spot, the base has gone awhile without a facility to relax or entertain children. Base leadership has a plan to replace the old facility by renovating the back half of the Red Morgan Center to become a hybrid facility for meetings, ceremonies and entertainment under one roof.
Blended Retirement System information/effective dates for opt-in:
The new Blended Retirement System will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and will be open to all Airmen who have 12 years or less time in service to opt-into the program. Eligible Airmen must choose between the BRS and the legacy retirement system no later than Dec. 31, 2018. The new system allows more options for all lengths of service, vs. the legacy program where 20 years of combined service was required to receive retirement benefits.
For additional details or to receive counseling on the best option for you, contact the Personal Finance Team at the Airman Family & Readiness Center.
Q. Which Airmen are eligible?
A. Airmen who have 12 years or less time in service are eligible to opt-in to the BRS beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
Q. Will the Department of Defense match the whole year if you opt-in later in 2018?
A. No, DoD matching begins the day you opt-in, NTL than Dec. 31, 2018.
Basic Allowance for Housing rate update:
BAH is calculated based upon the property values in an area. The latest property value study for the Spokane area will show updates to BAH rates calculated for the local area around Fairchild, with updates to be released sometime in late December to mid-January of next year.
Operational security overview:
It is vitally important to keep files and communications secure, but modern technologies allow aggregation of information to take observable pieces of separate information to give a potential enemy an idea of the overall picture of data you’re trying to protect. Family members are just as important to operational security as their military members.
Q. Are email subject lines encrypted?
A. No, so keep that in mind when sending emails. Keep subjects simple and encrypt the data in the body of the email.
Changes to the utility billing for base housing is currently being reviewed and can be expected to go into effect sometime late next year or early in 2019 after housing utility needs are analyzed. Additionally, the base privatized housing contract has been updated to include a five year carpet depreciation policy, which will result in a more comparable fee for residents who are moving out with carpet damage. This does not apply to carpets damaged from negligence.
Q. Will the utility bill come from the base or an outside party?
A. That is still in negotiation, but the idea is that the bill will come from an outside party.
Q. Will there be credits given to those that use less than the projected average power use?
A. That is also still in negotiation, but is something we’re looking at providing.
Snow and ice removal updates:
Base housing has contractors to help clear the roads and driveways of residents, but the Civil Engineer Squadron is responsible for clearing snow from around the base. They will begin removing snow once it hits two inches. The areas around base facilities are still the responsibility of the respective units.
Q. Will the contracted snow removal help clear driveways for deployed members?
A. Yes, once, same as everyone. It is asked that neighbors help each other out to assist those families needing it.
Q. Are schools delayed when the base is?
A. Base delays are based on several factors, including schools. We don’t control the schedule for the outside schools, but we do communicate with them if there are expected delays.
Winter safety driving:
The base Safety Office advised drivers to be prepared for the worst while traveling, with a shovel, food and water in addition to supplies to stay warm in case of automobile break downs. They also reviewed a base-wide policy to limit on-base car idling to no longer than five minutes.
Tricare pricing updates:
There will be two consolidated regions, East and West, beginning in 2018. There will be no changes for Tricare Life and Prime as of Jan.1, but coverage for Tricare Standard will show a change in co-pays. An enrollment freeze will also occur before the end of the year, but will not affect anyone with a current Primary Care Manager.
Q. Will the enrollment freeze affect people going through a permanent change of station?
A. No, it should not affect them and they should still be seen by an available provider.
MHS Genesis updates:
With the newly implemented health record system approaching its one year mark, efforts to improve the system in its “beta testing” are happening continuously. Appointment availabilities have decreased to give more face-to-face time with patients. To accommodate the demand for care, the 92nd Medical Group is sending patients off base.
Q. Do retirees need to renew referrals or prescriptions if they switch to a civilian provider?
A. Both are good for 90 days regardless of provider. Those concerned can contact the base clinic for case-specific answers.
Q. Will there be a price increase associated with this, like co-pays?
A. Civilian medical provider’s co-pays are increasing across the board, so please expect that.
If you have questions or feedback to give to base leadership, send your comments to the Commander’s Action Line email at: