Air Force Surgeon General absorbs Air Commando mission, culture

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jessie Schuelke, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical services technician, briefs Lt. Gen. Thomas Travis, Surgeon General of the Air Force, on the Exceptional Family Member Program Oct. 28, 2014 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Schuelke noted several improvements that will lower the number of EFMP-related relocations from Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jessie Schuelke, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical services technician, briefs Lt. Gen. Thomas Travis, Surgeon General of the Air Force, on the Exceptional Family Member Program Oct. 28, 2014 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Schuelke noted several improvements that will lower the number of EFMP-related relocations from Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

Steven Coffin, Melrose Air Force Range manager, briefs Lt. Gen. Thomas Travis, Surgeon General of the Air Force, on the assets that allow special operators from across the Department of Defense to practice Military Operations on Urban Terrain Oct. 28, 2014, at Melrose Air Force Range, N.M. This MOUT site provided a simulated urban combat environment to Cannon medics competing in the Commando Challenge during September's Emergency Medical Technicians rodeo. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

Steven Coffin, Melrose Air Force Range manager, briefs Lt. Gen. Thomas Travis, Surgeon General of the Air Force, on the assets that allow special operators from across the Department of Defense to practice Military Operations on Urban Terrain Oct. 28, 2014, at Melrose Air Force Range, N.M. This MOUT site provided a simulated urban combat environment to Cannon medics competing in the Commando Challenge during September's Emergency Medical Technicians rodeo. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Melissa Ramos, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron medical technician, briefs Lt. Gen. Thomas Travis, Surgeon General of the Air Force, on the teledermatology program Oct. 28, 2014 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The program uses high-definition digital photography to allow an off-site dermatologist to remotely diagnose skin issues. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Melissa Ramos, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron medical technician, briefs Lt. Gen. Thomas Travis, Surgeon General of the Air Force, on the teledermatology program Oct. 28, 2014 at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. The program uses high-definition digital photography to allow an off-site dermatologist to remotely diagnose skin issues. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Lt. Gen. Thomas Travis, Surgeon General of the Air Force, toured Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 28 to gain insight into the expansive nature of the mission and the benefits of the local range facilities.  

The visit also provided an opportunity for Air Commandos working in each section of the 27th Special Operations Medical Group to share achievements and improvements in their offices, including innovative solutions like Cannon’s teledermatology clinic and developmental pediatrics program. 

Later in the tour, the surgeon general learned about a recently held Emergency Medical Technicians rodeo, admiring the austere environment in which medics from across the Air Force competed to execute life-saving missions in a combat scenario.  

“Your ability to replicate environments – such as this base and its range – where our medics can test their skills and effectively place themselves  in an ‘as-if-you-were-there’ mode, goes a great distance to help ensure medical readiness,” Travis said, commending 27th SOMDG commander Col. Jeff Gillen and the event organizers and participants. “It’s not just important access to training, it’s also cost-effective.” 

Travis sparked a discussion on Gillen’s goals for next year’s rodeo, which included inviting more teams, practicing more elaborate scenarios and gaining wider recognition for the one-of-a-kind training opportunity provided by Cannon.   

“We can’t afford not to do this,” said Travis. “Your base and facilities help create better medics across the Air Force.”  

Travis got to experience the environment where EMTs handled simulated combat trauma firsthand as he toured Melrose Air Force Range, N.M., first from the air and then on the ground.  

Steven Coffin, Melrose Air Force Range manager, briefed the surgeon general at the primary training area where Air Commandos and operators from across the Department of Defense practice Military Operations on Urban Terrain, demonstrating the MOUT site’s capability to replicate the situations, sights, sounds and even smells of combat.  

“This is a truly strategic asset, and I’m very pleased to see how this range environment benefits our medical training as well,” Travis stated at the range. 

Travis’ tour ended by addressing a large group of Air Commandos, where he emphasized the key role that Cannon’s medics play in the Air Force mission.   

“I couldn’t be any happier to have had the opportunity to hear the general reinforce how important the work we do here is, and how it’s recognized at such higher levels,” said Staff Sgt. Destini English, 27th Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron mental health operations supervisor.  “His years of experience, his dedication to our collective medical mission is truly humbling and motivating to us.”  

A pilot-physician who spent several of his 38 years of service flying, many of those hours in fighter planes, Travis spoke to the new specialized missions of our evolved Air Force and the quality of medical care it takes to sustain that mission.  

“Over the past few decades, Intel, RPA, and special operators have risen to the forefront as we’ve been taking the fight to the enemy,” said Travis.  “In addition, there is a whole new brand of operators – you Air Commandos – and a whole different brand of warfare in our Air Force that requires an entirely different brand of support.  We need all AF medics to understand the mission our people are doing.  We need to know what they're going through before they go through it in order to provide customized access, prevention, and care.  And we need to keep them healthy and performing at the highest possible level. 

“This wing is a great model for that new objective here,” he concluded.