78th MDSS deactivated: Move to improve combat readiness, lethality

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. —The 78th Medical Support Squadron with the 78th Medical Group at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, was deactivated during a ceremony at the base theater June 24.

Col. Dale Harrell, 78th MDG commander, presided over the ceremony.

“In February 2019, the Secretary of the Air Force directed the Air Force Surgeon General to reform the Air Force Medical Services, to restructure the military treatment facilities to support an initiative to improve combat readiness and lethality while revitalizing squadrons. That’s why we are here today. We are a part of that directive,” Harrell said.

The process of changing the 78th MDG from three squadrons to two started almost two years ago when the 78th Medical Operations Squadron and 78th Aerospace Medicine Squadron were restructured into the 78th Healthcare Operations Squadron and 78th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, respectively, Aug. 1, 2019

Harrell added, “Today is the final piece of the puzzle. The new structure will strengthen the medical group and better prepare us to meet the needs of the national security strategy at home and abroad.”

The 78th MDSS was under the command of Lt. Col. Jennifer Idell and consisted of six flights:

– TRICARE Operations and Patient Administration, also known as TOPA
– Resource Management Office
– Diagnostics and Therapeutics
– Medical Logistics
– Information Systems and Technology
– Medical Readiness

Those flights are now a part of either the 78th HCOS or the 78th OMRS with the 78th MDG.

“It’s not often a current commander of a squadron gains a new squadron during their command, but I am up to the challenge and proudly accept the honor of commanding this new combined squadron,” she said. “I think of this squadron as a weave of fabric. Each flight is like a thread or strand of material bringing its unique color and characteristics. Yet, they are interlaced to form one final masterpiece or work of art. These characteristics are your talents, strengths, capabilities and yes, also weaknesses. Each depending on one another and contributing to the mission of the 78th MDG.”

Raj Kashyap, 78th Healthcare Operations Squadron TOPA Flight commander, was the lead organizer for the ceremony. He held the same position in the 78th MDSS.

“We worked diligently to make this a memorable and special occasion because it is a historical event,” said Kashyap. “Though this squadron is being deactivated, it will forever be a part of the legacy of the 78th MDG and the Air Force, in general.”

That legacy includes receiving the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award six times: in 1994, 2006, 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Kashyap wants to assure TOPA customer services will not suffer in this new era.

“It is our job to educate our beneficiaries on what we can offer them, and what they can ask of us and expect of us,” he said. “We are a one-stop shop for any questions you have about the med group. TOPA probably has the answer, and I love that about us. TOPA’s mission will remain the same.”

“If anything, what we offer will be heightened,” Kashyap continued. “We are streamlining communication within the med group to make things a simpler process by creating less of a chance for failure and more room for improvement and growth.”