Minnesota, 934th AW picked for new DoD pilot program

  • Published
  • By Paul Zadach
  • 934th Airlift Wing

Minnesota was selected as one of seven states to pilot the multi-year Building Healthy Military Communities (BHMC) program. The BHMC program aims to better understand unique challenges faced by graphically dispersed service members and their families that may impact their readiness, resiliency and well-being.

Other states selected for BHMC are Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma, Maryland, Mississippi and New Mexico.

This DoD program was launched in response to the Senate Report 114-63, which calls for a pilot to “enhancement of recruitment, retention, readiness and resilience of the total force.” Many service members live off of installations, creating a unique set of challenges in accessing resources that promote well-being.

The DoD hopes to better understand resource challenges and develop a comprehensive strategy to support the Chairman’s objective of Total Force Fitness (TFF), which is DoD’s framework for improving health, readiness, and resiliency of its population through eight domains of fitness (physical, environmental, medical/dental, nutritional, spiritual, psychological, behavioral, and social).

The BHMC will be conducted in three phases:
1 Complete a Rapid Needs Assessment
2. Develop Strategic Plan and Implement Key Interventions
3. Evaluate Interventions

Phase one of the program began May 17, which included a meeting of BHMC stakeholders and Minnesota unit leaders and program managers. One of the meetings was with Col. Tony Polashek, 934th Airlift Wing commander, and Mike Sanford, representing the wing’s resiliency team. During the phase one meeting, a baseline assessment of available resources, existing needs, and current gaps in optimizing readiness, resiliency, and wellbeing was conducted.

 “Although Minnesota does not have an active duty base, it has the fourth largest population of Reserve and Guard members in the country,” said Polashek. “Since Reserve and Guard members do not live on military installations, it makes Minnesota a good choice for the program.”

Mr. Sal Libretto, DoD stakeholder, explained that there will be a state coordinator appointed for each state to serve as focal point for all military agencies. For Minnesota, the state coordinator is Ms. Tiffany Kovaleski, who recently served as Chief of Staff for the Twin Cities Medal of Honor Convention.
Upcoming programs include an information campaign to communicate the initiative and publicize outreach efforts to target populations based on need. Another will be utilization of mobile health technologies to reduce barriers in accessing information and connecting target populations with available resources.

 “We have worked with Ms. Kovaleski on the Medal of Honor Convention which was a huge success here,” said Polashek. “We look forward to working with her and the other stakeholders on the BHMC program.”