By Senior Airman Alexus Wilcox | Peterson-Schriever Garrison public affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 21st Medical Group, Guardian Holistic Operational Support Team (GHOST) at Schriever Air Force Base supports Airmen and Guardians through resiliency resources.
The mission of GHOST, formerly known as the Space Team for Airmen Resilience (STAR), is to provide mission-readiness physical, spiritual and psychological support to Airmen and Guardians through reliable and accessible embedded engagement at the unit level.
“Being this close to the mission and having an understanding of what Guardians need in terms of resource has been a huge advantage,” U.S. Space Force Tech. Sgt. Walker Jean-Philippe, 21st
MDG, GHOST operational support flight chief. “We’ve been able to positively impact the barriers to care by simply meeting Guardians in the work space.”
“STAR, now GHOST was originally envisioned by Gen. John “Jay” Raymond to address harmful coping mechanisms related to operational stressors experienced by space operators along the four pillars of comprehensive fitness: mental, physical, social and spiritual,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Raymond Clydesdale, U.S. Space Force deputy command surgeon.
This USSF program includes a physical therapist, flight physician assistant, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, mental health technician, chaplain and a religious affairs Airman.
The GHOST team currently supports Space Delta 8 – Satellite Communications and Navigational Warfare and Space Delta 9 – Orbital Warfare along with the 3rd Space Experimental Squadron.
This unique team is the first embedded team in the USSF. Additionally, USSF seeks to provide embedded teams to Deltas at each installation and is negotiating with the Air Force Medical Service on developing and resourcing more embedded teams.
“GHOST is designed to be a ‘permanent’ embedded operational support; whereas traditional medical group operational support teams are ‘transient’ embedded operational support by moving between an installation’s units every few months,” said Clydesdale.
This means that Airmen and Guardians can have direct and consistent support as well as team of individuals that have a deeper understanding of their mission and responsibilities.
“The concept of embedding medics or chaplains within operational units is not new, just new to space operators,” said Clydesdale. “The role of the flight surgeon developed shortly after humans began flying so that physicians could experience the rigors of hazardous environments to better understand their flying patient population, to develop trust and rapport with that same population, and to optimize pilot performance for mission success. GHOST strives for the same among the Guardian population.”
Although there are other base resources that address the four pillars of comprehensive fitness, they do not exist in an operationally secure environment as GHOST does.
Prior to the name change, 66 of 100 Guardians in the STAR pilot program noted in an internal survey they would not have used the base services if the STAR mission did not exist.
“Historically, military members have had a fear of going to mental health out of concern for reprisal or possibly losing clearances,” said U.S. Space Force Maj. Lauren Taylor, DEL 8, 2nd Space Operations Squadron director of operations. “Garrison support for GHOST ensures people understand that taking care of health and welfare is a priority.”
Ultimately, GHOST allows Airmen and Guardians to live a more balanced life by having immediate access to care and eliminate the process of scheduling and waiting for an appointment to be available.
“As the general public has rightly focused more attention to mental health issues over the past several decades, garrison support for GHOST is important to show the military can innovate and adapt to the issues its members are struggling with today,” said U.S. Space Force Capt. Collin Dart, DEL 8, 2nd Space Operations Squadron assistant director of sustainment.
Currently, there are ongoing discussions at different levels of leadership to figure out a way to expand the same resources GHOST provides to all of the deltas that have a need for them.