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MPF tops in mission support four years running

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

Winning Air Mobility Command level awards is a good indication the Military Personnel Flight is doing something right but winning top mission support squadron for the fourth consecutive year is a sure sign this hard-working bunch is on top of their game.

"Uncommon service is the way we like to think of ourselves," said Senior Master Sgt. Leonard Jordan, superintendent of the flight. "We look for ways to make it happen, not reasons for why they can't be done."

The primary job of the MPF is guiding active duty members, retirees and base civilians on a wide variety of matters concerning their jobs, job opportunities, benefits, pay, travel and the like, as well as issuing base passes and IDs.

"We're one of the busiest bases in terms of issuing IDs because of all the different elements at MacDill," said Tech Sgt. Brett Bangert, non-commissioned officer-in-charge of personnel and employment.

In addition to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, the MPF serves Special Operations Command, Central Command and handles paperwork for all branches, including passports. It's a big job and keeping up on the ever-changing regulations and directives keeps the 45 members of the flight hopping, said 1st Lt. Amy Coleman, flight commander. But the job is getting more streamlined thanks to Internet technology and Virtual MPF, a system instituted nearly three years ago. The online access allows Airmen to check and update their personnel records and initiate many procedures, which in the past took a lot of interaction between MPF personnel and those in need of services.

"It's getting to be easier on us," said 2nd Lt. Jason Devitt, chief of consolidated command support staff, who notes that increasingly the flight serves the needs of commanders, who want information regarding promotions, making duty assignment decisions and the like for personnel under their command.

Lieutenant Coleman compares the services to the average Airmen to the job a bank does for its depositors.

"We manage the business end of it but it is up to the customer to look after some things themselves," she said. "For example, a bank doesn't balance your checkbook for you."

That's why everyone is encouraged to log into Virtual MPF often to check and update records as needed. From address and phone number changes to checking ribbons and decorations and duty history, catching mistakes and correcting them can save a lot of problems, said Sergeant Jordan. He said discovering a problem during a change of status of any kind, including a promotion or deployment can cause real headaches as the scramble to beat the clock and resolve the errors on a tight deadline begins.

"Mistakes can have a severe impact on a person's career," said Sergeant Bangert. "That's why it is good to make sure everything is updated and accurate with your records."

To help everyone understand the importance of keeping their files up to date and the many job-related issues in the Air Force, the MPF is holdings its first Town Hall meeting Thursday in the Base Theater. Covering issues ranging from application windows, reenlistments, constrained AFSCs, the non-commissioned officer retraining program and more will be covered in a session at 7:30 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. In addition, those not familiar with the Virtual MPF system will be educated on how they can handle a lot of chores themselves via the Internet.

But while the self-service aspect of the Virtual MPF is making the job easier for all, it is not a replacement for human beings and the problem solving skills of MPF personnel.

"We'll always need human interaction and there is no replacement for that," said Lieutenant Devitt, a fact that is apparent each week, as the office deals with Florida's many retired military in addition to the active and civilian workloads. Above all the MPF leadership stresses that everyone should feel comfortable dealing with the flight and not be afraid to ask questions.

"There's no such thing as a dumb question," said Sergeant Jordan. "We want everyone to feel welcome and to understand that it is all about serving the customer."

 

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