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Feedback Fridays

By Brig. Gen. Laura L. Lenderman | 502d Air Base Wing Commander | Aug. 9, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —

Feedback Fridays is a weekly forum that aims to connect the 502d Air Base Wing with members of the Joint Base San Antonio community. Questions are collected during commander’s calls, town hall meetings and throughout the week.

If you have a question or concern, please send an email to RandolphPublicAffairs@us.af.mil using the subject line “Feedback Fridays.” Questions will be further researched and published as information becomes available.

Mold Issues

Q. There is a huge and very serious issue with mold in building 399 on Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. Please help, employees have been hospitalized. The 502 Civil Enginners are ignoring the problem.

A. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Our Civil Engineer team will coordinate with the Building 399 facility manager to provide a formal assessment. If a situation exists that cannot be readily remedied, the space management team will explore alternatives to relocate impacted occupants.

Q. I’ve been a federal firefighter at JBSA-Lackland since 2001 and have mold issues that have gone unresolved and tucked away by our management for years. We have pictures and videos of our sleeping quarters and beds that are filled with mold that were ordered to be removed when the base general came for a visit. I can explain more in detail if you’re interested to add to the story.

A. It is a top priority of mine to ensure quality work and living environments across JBSA. This is especially important in our emergency responders’ facilities where our employees live and work.

Last week, Lt. Col. Joey Tortella assumed command of the 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron and as commander of JBSA fire departments, he will be leading an official assessment of all JBSA fire department facilities. Based on his findings, we will accomplish necessary corrective actions to address your concerns.

Q. I have sent this to inform everyone that is messing with the “mildew” in the dorms, they are risking health problems and terrible long term health problems. That isn’t mildew but black mold and is very toxic if not handled properly.

You need professionals to handle this situation and definitely don’t want to scrub this. Once black mold has been distributed, its spores are airborne and if not inside a containment area or have the right filtration system, can scar lungs and neurological damage.

Please, I beg as a veteran of this fine Air Force to please let the professionals handle it.

A. Thank you for sharing your concerns about the dormitories on Joint Base San Antonio and for sharing your health concerns.

The health and wellness of all personnel on Joint Base San Antonio is my top priority. I agree with you, mold in living facilities is unacceptable. My team is doing everything we can to address this issue.

Rest assured that our assessment and cleaning processes are in compliance with federal standards. Employees involved in the clean-up are trained and provided proper Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, as well as have been monitored by our medical professionals.

As we move into the next phase of infrastructure assessment on Joint Base San Antonio, we plan to thoroughly evaluate community support facilities and workplaces just as we have the dormitories.

Please know that we are committed to the health and safety of our personnel and are taking the necessary precautions. Additionally, for specific issues that exceed our in-house capabilities, we will employ contract support vehicles to address.

With your permission, I would like to share your medical concerns with my partners at the 59th Medical Wing who can follow up with you.

Q. After reading a Facebook post about the mold at JBSA-Lackland, I wanted to reach out as a concerned employee at JBSA-Lackland.

We have a work place that has a consistent mold problem and we feel there’s been a number of questionable cover-ups at Fire Station One. We have requested inspections and the areas of concern were not properly identified because members of our department were forced to leave while the inspection took place.

The mold at our work place still exists, we are really concerned, and after seeing an article put out yesterday, I wanted to see if we could get an outside source’s opinion. I am concerned about my job going forward, so I do not want to place my name in a report, because reprisal is a real thing at the fire department. However, I’d be glad to answer any questions you may have.

A. It is my top priority to ensure quality work and living environments across JBSA and this is especially important in our emergency responders’ facilities where our employees both live and work.

Phase one of this process was assessing and correcting the mold issues in the dorms, and phase two will be addressing the fire houses, youth centers, child development centers, fitness centers and DFACs followed by all of the other facilities across JBSA.

Last week, Lt. Col. Joey Tortella assumed command of the 902d CES and all JBSA fire departments. He will be leading an official assessment of all JBSA fire department facilities. Based on his findings, we will develop necessary corrective actions to address your concerns and work with leadership to tackle the issues.

Q. What company performed the mold assessments?

A. Thank you for your question. All of the mold assessments to date have been conducted by JBSA CE Environmental and Bio Environmental professionals.

To help augment future assessments where the existence of mold exceeds 25 square feet, we are contracting licensed, professional mold mitigation specialists that reside in the local area, and we hope to have them on contract this week to help assist with mold eradication.

Q. What about the mold at JBSA-Camp Bullis? That mold needs to be taken care of also. Our servicemen did not ask to be put is those moldy buildings. That is a very real health risk to all of our military training personnel.

A. Thank you for sharing your concerns.  We completed a 100 percent assessment of all training dorms at JBSA-Camp Bullis July 31. Our cleaning and mitigation teams began their efforts Aug. 1 and are ongoing this week.

As part of our assessments, we are also identifying root causes behind any mold occurrences and will take necessary actions to reduce the chances of future occurrences.

Q. I’m a former C-130 loadmaster that has been out since 1998. I have sent this to inform everyone who is messing with the “mildew” in the dorms are risking health problems and terrible long term health problems.

That isn’t mildew, but black mold and is very toxic if not handled properly. You need professionals to handle this situation and definitely don’t want to scrub this. Once black mold has been distributed, its spores are airborne and if not inside a containment area or have the right filtration system, can scar lungs and could cause neurological damage. Please, I beg as a veteran of this fine air force to please let the professionals handle it.

A. Thank you for your service and thank you for your concerns about our service members and for your feedback concerning the challenges with dormitories on Joint Base San Antonio.

Importantly, we are not asking any service member staying in unaccompanied housing to remediate existing mold or clean beyond what would be normal or routine. The health and wellness of our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coastguardsmen, civilians, contractors and their families is my primary concern and one that I care greatly about.

I assure you that we have professionals on the ground who are equipped to mitigate mold, and we are ensuring that they are in compliance with mold removal protocols in order to protect themselves and the surrounding occupants. Mold remediation guidelines are being utilized by our teams who have been instructed use of personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe.

Additionally, medical professionals are supporting our assessment efforts in order to provide expertise and guidance on-site. Please know that I am committed to the health and safety of our personnel and are taking the necessary precautions.

Q. Have you made it to JBSA-Canyon Lake? I went last weekend and there were dead bugs on floor and ceiling fan was filthy. Check out the black mold in in showers.

A. Thank you for visiting our JBSA Recreation Park at Canyon Lake and providing us feedback on your stay.  

I regret that you encountered unacceptable conditions. Our 802nd Force Support Squadron leadership team is performing a detailed inspection of all Canyon Lake lodging units and restrooms, looking for any signs of mold or other unacceptable sanitation conditions.  

We will aggressively address any discrepancies found, and look for trends on which to focus our resources. We will also provide remedial training to our housekeeping and maintenance teams, ensuring they remain vigilant at all times to cleanliness, insects, mold, etc. and immediately address any health or safety issues in the park. We appreciate your business at Canyon Lake, and hope you’ll give us second chance to meet your off-duty recreational needs.

Personnel Issues

Q. Why does it take so long for Finance to approve Defense Travel System, or DTS, vouchers? I came back from a deployment three months ago, my Government Travel Card was overdue for payment, and I had to pay out of pocket. I was one of six personnel having these issues in my unit after our recent deployment).

I went to Finance to ask what the holdup was since they sent my voucher back repeatedly stating reasons that were incorrect such as not having all my receipts attached.

The Finance personnel told me only one person does DTS vouchers and only one day week, gave me an impromptu briefing on how I should have known this could happen and how it’s not their fault, and failed to update us via email personally after they had said they would.

A. Thank you for your question and I sincerely apologize for the delays in approving your DTS voucher. Our goal is to provide a world-class customer service experience for everyone, and we depend on feedback to identify opportunities for improvement.

We have several challenges when it comes to timeliness: voucher volume (30,000 vouchers per year), internal manpower fluctuations (compounded by separation of duties requirements), network downtime and customer education, to name a few.

As you can imagine, a backlog of vouchers compounds all other issues because the same individuals who process vouchers also respond to customer inquiries.

Traditionally, we have addressed these challenges by surging manpower, increasing duty hours, and realigning personnel to meet demand (when manpower is available). The root cause is often related to obtaining accurate and complete data from the customer on the first try.

We’re currently developing a customer facing, but Organizational Defense Travel Administrators, or ODTAs, focused, SharePoint site that provides training curriculum necessary to assist customers in providing accurate vouchers on the front end, thereby, decreasing processing time, improving customer experience and bolstering Airman and Joint Partner readiness. Our team will also be conducting assistance visits with ODTAs to improve the disbursed skill sets necessary to serve our distributed population.

Every player in the DTS/Travel process has a role to play in system success. While it won’t be immediate, with training and collaborative effort from each person in the process, we will remedy travel voucher delays. Thanks again for your question and the opportunity to respond. Here is a link to ICE: https://ice.disa.mil/index.cfm?fa=card&sp=109438

Q. I would like to know what is the timeframe for processing beneficiary forms? I submitted my forms (updates were made) in May and kept calling to find out the status.

The first time I was told that it takes time to process these forms. After a month, I called again and asked if they could check to see if they ever received the forms. I was told again that it takes time to process them. I asked if there was any way for them to check and see if their office had received them and was told no.

After a couple of weeks, I did receive a call and was told that the best thing was to re-accomplish them. I did re-accomplish them and mailed them off (to the address that was listed on the back of the forms) June 20, 2019.

As of today, I still have not received a call or any type of notification that they have been received or processed. Why does it take so long to process these forms?

A. Thank you for your question, and we sincerely apologize for the delays in processing your beneficiary forms. For readers who may not be familiar, the Air Force Personnel Center, or AFPC, receives and processes the following beneficiary forms:

SF 2823Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) Designation of Beneficiary.

SF 1152Unpaid Compensation of Deceased Civilian Employee Designation of Beneficiary (consists of salary not paid at time of death and lump-sum payment for unused annual leave).

SF 3102Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Designation of Beneficiary (consists of a lump-sum payment of your contributions to the retirement system - use only if your current retirement system is FERS); and

CA-40Designation of a Recipient of the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act Death Gratuity Payment under Section 1105 of Public Law 110-181 (Section 8102a) - to be used by employees performing service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation. More information on this death gratuity can be found on the Department of Labor website.

Although there’s no specific timeframe designated for final processing, certifying, submission and uploading of these forms into your eOPF, AFPC’s goal is to process these forms as soon as possible.

After they are mailed, the forms are received, vetted and processed through multiple departments. You will receive an email through MyPers providing status of your forms after they have been reviewed and certified. This email will be sent before form(s) are uploaded to your eOPF, and it will either inform you if your beneficiaries have been updated or if you need to re-submit the forms because there’s an issue which needs to be corrected.

As a reminder, you are required to mail the original documents and they must have “wet signatures” and no white-out/cross outs are allowed.

These forms should be mailed to: HQ AFPC/DP1TSC, 550 C Street West, JBSA-Randolph, TX 78150. You must mail the following forms directly to the address on the back of the forms:

SF 2808Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) Designation of Beneficiary (consists of a lump-sum payment of your contributions to the retirement system - use this form only if your current retirement coverage is CSRS); and

TSP-3Thrift Savings Plan Designation of Beneficiary

Once again, there is not a specific designated timeframe for processing, however, you will receive confirmation by email once these forms have been processed.

Q. Now that school is out and summer is here, many young people are using the JBSA-Randolph gym at night to play basketball. Most times, only one of those individuals has a card to get in the gym, while the rest are often civilians (as many as five others).

As a retiree, I find this problematic on two levels. First, they should not be bringing anyone into the gym with them as they are being briefed this when they get their card enable. At that time they have to sign a letter saying that.

Secondly, since most of the people with them are local visitors, they are not allowed to use the gym anytime. I have had my daughter-in-law turned away in the day time with me because she was not authorized.

It is not fair that the rules are not being applied to these people. Furthermore, there are dependents using the sponsor’s card to get in and also other dependents, retirees and active duty members are loaning their and other dependents their cards.

This is not a safe situation and is a misuse of the fitness facility. What can be done to help enforce the rules at our fitness centers?

A. Thank you for bringing this to our attention as this is both a safety and security concern.

Currently, all JBSA fitness centers are governed by the same “guest policy” to help manage the amount of non-DOD patrons that are utilizing our facilities. Current guest policy specifies that your guest must live outside a 50-mile radius before granted access to fitness center for typical operating hours.

After hours, when utilizing Fitness Access, the rule is very clear as “guests are not permitted into the facility during unmanned hours” and “CAC/Swipe sharing (piggybacking) is strictly prohibited and is viewed as theft of services.”

This is based on the integrity of the person granted the Fitness Access privilege and will result in revocation of their privileges.

Please help us help you as this is another case of “if you see something, say something.” Please report this to manager during normal duty hours with day/time of the occurrence as it can be reviewed by the access system which includes cameras.

Security Forces Squadron also does do periodic patrols through the Fitness centers during the 24/7 period and will do random ID card checks, this helps to ensure only authorized patrons are using the facility after-hours.

Installation & Facilities

Q. We have two major construction projects on Wurzbach Road on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston which are going to cause very lengthy traffic delays.

The first is the Scott/Burr road project that ran for most of July 2019. The second will be the Wurzbach/Austin Highway SPUI interchange project which will run through 2021. Are there any plans to offer limited Pershing Gate egress in the afternoon rush hour to alleviate the traffic congestion that is going to occur at that gate?

A. Thank you for highlighting potential concerns regarding traffic access during our JBSA Fort Sam Houston road improvement projects.

JBSA Security Forces, 502d Force Support Group and 502d Civil Engineer teams closely monitored the first phase of the Wurzbach Road improvement project to assess traffic impacts.

Based on our current review, we did not observe significant traffic delays during rush hour that would warrant a change in the Pershing Gate egress hours. We plan to continue to closely monitor the traffic patterns, and if the situation changes to a point where the gate hours need to be adjusted, we will take action at that time.

Thanks again for sharing your concern with regards to our road improvement projects and potential traffic/gate impacts. 

Miscellaneous

Q. This fall I will be unable to drive for approximately four weeks. In order to avoid constantly asking co-workers for rides, I would like to get a 30-day pass for a Yellow Cab driver who has been cleared to drive on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. Is this possible?

A. Great question – we have good news for you! At this point in time, several taxi cab companies are able to obtain a Defense Biometric Identification System, or DBIDS, card for their drivers.

If you need to obtain access to the base using a taxi, please ask the taxi company to send a credentialed DBIDS driver. I hope you find this information helpful.

Also, please don’t hesitate to contact your local JBSA Visitor Control Centers (VCC) if you have additional questions regarding access to our JBSA installations.  

Q. I’m involved with a bed down of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service detachment at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston in building 1001.

They have a Secure Network requirement and when I spoke to the 502nd ABW/IP office, they informed me that they only support or provide oversight for Air Force units on JBSA installations as outlined in JBSA MOA, Section M-3.

My question is if there’s an installation protection incident on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston or CB that pertains to a non-AF DOD organization, how can the 502nd ABW – who provides overall installation security – not also provide Installation Protection Support and oversite to all DOD managed/owned facilities & DOD entities/assets on/inside the fenceline JBSA installation properties?

A. Great question. When JBSA stood up in 2010, the Army retained ownership and management of the Army Network which services units across JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Camp Bullis.

Information Protection Security, to include security incidents, was also retained by the Army Support Activity at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Camp Bullis. As a result, 502nd ABW/IP is only able to provide Information, Personnel, and Industrial Security support to units on the Air Force Network, or AFNET.

If you have any additional questions regarding IP support, our POC is Patricia Harris at 210-221-2280.