156th Airlift Wing Airman Care Advocacy Team assists airmen and their families

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ricardo Castrodad
  • 156th Airlift Wing
Airmen from the 156th Airlift Wing now have the Airman Care Advocacy Team at their disposal to assist them with unresolved medical, administrative and personnel issues as a means to improve their military readiness and personal well-being.

"The ACAT seeks to attack any long standing problems and fill in the service gaps where our system, for one reason or another, has not been able to effectively meet the needs of our Airmen and their families," said Col. Edward L. Vaughn, 156th Airlift Wing commander.  "This initiative embodies and strengthens the augmented core values of Family, Accountability, and Respect, which drive our organization."

The ACAT Program was established in December 2015 and officially introduced in March 2016 to the Air National Guard Readiness Center during the PRANG State of the Commonwealth Address at Joint Base Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.  During the address, the ACAT was presented as an innovative initiative, which addresses long standing issues and actions that have been affecting the lives of airmen and their families.

Tech. Sgt. Juan C. Diaz, 156th Medical Group lab technician and ACAT member, explained that the ACAT began working primarily with members facing complicated medical issues such as pending Line of Duty, Medical Continuation, Incapacitation Pay, and Medical Evaluation Board claims and processes.  Since its inception, the ACAT has assisted in the resolution of 28 medical related cases.

"After seeing the initial success of the ACAT Program, we realized there were additional gaps in other functional areas such as personnel, finance and education in which the presence of an advocate would be beneficial in identifying resources and facilitating processes for our Airmen," said 2nd Lt. Emiré Rodríguez, 156th Force Support Squadron personnel officer and ACAT representative. 

"The ACAT allows us to take care of our most valuable asset, our people" said Rodriguez. "We are committed to helping them in obtaining the proper assistance regardless of the issue, and they can trust that we will be there to give them a hand."
Rodriguez further explained that the ACAT is working to support airmen with TRICARE and Veterans Affairs benefits.

In addition to Diaz and Rodriguez, Capt. Frances Romero, 156th Airlift Wing Deputy Judge Advocate; Maj. José Daniel Rivera Miranda, 156th Medical Group flight surgeon; and Chief Master Sgt. Angelbergth Soto, 156th Airlift Wing command chief, are available ACAT representatives ready to provide assistance.

The ACAT Office is located in Bldg. 22 and the hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.  Airmen can also contact the ACAT Office by phone at 787-253-7492 (off-base) and 787-253-9492 (on-base) or by email at juan.c.diazpabon.mil@mail.mil.