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Readiness is top priority for 2017

Tech. Sgt. Steve Rau, a paralegal at the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va., works with a unit member to complete a will, January 8, 2017. Creating or updating a will can be done by contacting the base JAG office.

Tech. Sgt. Steve Rau, a paralegal at the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va., works with a unit member to complete a will, January 8, 2017. Creating or updating a will can be done by contacting the base JAG office.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --

A major part of being a member of the U.S. military is being prepared for the eventuality of a deployment abroad or any other location within the U.S. in support of our national security needs.

            This is particularly important for members of the Reserve and Guard components who often have jobs and commitments outside of the military that active duty personnel do not.

            But what does readiness actually mean?  This is an especially important question for the 167th Airlift wing in 2017 as the unit prepares to deploy Airmen from around the wing to various locations abroad.

The National Guard Bureau, which has made readiness one of its priorities for 2017, defines readiness as “the capability of the U.S. Armed Forces to support America’s national security requirements whenever and wherever they arise.”

            As made clear by the above definition, readiness is an all-encompassing term with many different aspects that Airmen must balance to remain “ready.” 

            According to Master Sgt. Sonia Walls, the 167th Airlift Wing legal office superintendent, one important aspect of readiness is ensuring all legal and financial matters are manageable and that a plan is made and communicated to all parties involved.

“Readiness, from the legal perspective, is ensuring that you and your family are stable both legally and financially in case of emergencies so that the member has one less thing to stress about during the deployment,” Walls said.

The 167th legal office can provide assistance to members and their families on a number of matters to help ensure a smooth deployment, Walls said.

            “One thing members need to take care of, prior to deploying, is that they have a will and that the will is updated,” Walls said. “Power of attorneys are also very important to have in place in case of an emergency or if signatures and authorizations are needed from the deployed member.”

            According to Senior Master Sgt. Scott Puffenberger, the 167th installation deployment office, members shouldn’t wait until the last minute to begin thinking about readiness.

            “I think readiness is being fully qualified in your job and you have all your personal affairs ready so you don’t get caught off guard,” Puffenberger said. “Don’t procrastinate, try to get things done ahead of time.”

            Air Expeditionary Force online and unit deployment managers are both good resources for Airmen to ensure they aren’t overlooking important tasks, Puffenberger said.

It’s no question that it is important for military members to maintain a high level of readiness however, it is also important for members to remember that their families are a large part of that readiness.

            For Sherry Lewis, the 167th Airmen and family program manager, one of the most important parts of readiness is for members to communicate with their families, ensure that everyone is on the same page, and to be aware of the abundance of resources that are available to them.

            “Military OneSource is an excellent resource for Airmen and their families both while they are deployed and during the weeks leading up to their deployment,” Lewis said. “Members can also tell me what they or their families need and I can refer them to the appropriate resources that are available.”

            In addition to the resources offered by the Airmen and Family Programs Office, the wing Chaplain Office is also available to Airmen and their families both before and during deployments for counseling and spiritual needs, said Staff Sgt. Geoffrey Blankenship, the 167th Chaplin assistant readiness non-commissioned officer in charge.