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Robins plans workplace-safety partnership


Robins Air Force Base officials say they're working with a federal agency and two unions to improve workplace safety.

Base officials are scheduled to formally enter into the alliance Friday with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 987 and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local F107.

Base spokesman Roland Leach said the groups' goal is a safer and healthier workplace.

Defense Department sets up Ebola task force


The Defense Department is closely watching the Ebola epidemic, establishing a small internal task force to evaluate ways to support international efforts to stop the outbreak, the Pentagon's top spokesman said Tuesday.

Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said DoD already is helping in Liberia, with a small number of military and civilian public health officials from U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, providing support.

"Clearly, we're watching this as closely as everybody else is and it's an interagency effort here in the United States," Kirby said. "It's not just the Pentagon, it's CDC, USAID, it's State Department. We're all talking about this and working on this."

AF takes aim at obesity in dependents, retirees

AF takes aim at obesity in dependents, retirees

The Air Force is taking aim at obesity among dependents and retirees through two pilot programs that could eventually go servicewide.

Part of the new Healthcare to Health initiative — H2H for short — the programs target parents of Air Force children as well as spouses and retirees through interactive courses on base, said Kelly Williams, a certified health education specialist who has spent two years developing the initiative.

The first, called 5210 Healthy Military Children, teaches moms and dads how to make consistent, healthy meal and exercise choices at home. The second, Group Lifestyle Balance, focuses on weight management, physical activity and healthy eating for spouses and retirees at risk for weight-related health problems like Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, strokes and heart attacks.

DoD quietly tightens tuition assistance rules


Force-wide changes to the military's Tuition Assistance program may require troops to pay back their TA money if they perform poorly in class.

Service members taking undergraduate courses will have to achieve a grade of C or higher, and those taking graduate-level classes must obtain a grade of B or higher, or else they will be subject to "recoupment" and may have to pay out-of-pocket cash retroactively for the class's costs, according to an internal policy change that Defense Department officials approved July 7 but did not publicly announce.

Service members who receive a grade of "I" for incomplete will have to repay their TA money if they fail to complete the class and convert the "I" into a satisfactory grade.

Robins offering buyouts to workers

Robins offering buyouts to workers

Robins Air Force Base is accepting buyout applications from up to 100 civilian employees, part of a new round of Air Force budget-cutting.

In a news release Friday, the base said selected workers will be offered incentives of up to $25,000 for early retirement and separation.

The base recently said it may eliminate up to 258 jobs at its Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, about a quarter of the jobs there.

The reductions are a part of an Air Force program to eliminate 3,459 positions, the news release states. They say the cuts would save $1.6 billion over the next four years.

Robins says it will accept applications from up to 15 specialties, including human resources,budget analysts and material handlers.

The base says they will approve fewer than 100 buyouts, and those workers must leave by Sept. 30.


Robins AFB ranks 25th in "Best Bases for Airmen"


No matter the service, no matter the era, one of the favorite pastimes of troops has always been comparing duty stations — griping about the lousy ones and singing the praises of the good ones.

Air Force Times is weighing in on this argument with the best tool at our disposal: cold, hard stats. We've looked at 68 stateside Air Force bases and their surrounding communities, and pulled together data on a dozen factors — everything from school quality to the local economy, crime rates to traffic, and climate to on-base amenities, such as commissaries.

And when we tallied up the results, some surprising bases rose to the top of our list. Our top five bases may not get a lot of attention or be as glamorous a posting as, say, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. But they are diamonds in the rough and provide good places for airmen to raise families and entertain themselves, as they serve their country.

DoD still hasn't released final 2013 suicide numbers


In 2012, the U.S. military hit a record for the number of suicides among troops on active duty — 319 — since the Pentagon began closely tracking the numbers in 2001.

Preliminary Pentagon figures issued early this year indicated that figure dropped in 2013 to 261.

But no one outside the Defense Department knows for sure.

That's because as of July 17, DoD has not released any official suicide data for the fourth quarter of 2013. Neither has it published suicide data for the first two quarters of this year.

The data has been further obscured in the wake of a Pentagon decision last year to be the sole source of the information, instead of the individual services, as well as a move by the Defense Suicide Prevention Office to redefine the methodology for calculating rates and exclude previously counted suicides among mobilized National Guard and reserve troops.