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As a patient, how do I get clearances/paperwork/stuff done?



This post is meant to do two things:

Empower the applicant to know what the fuck they actually need

Get the paperwork done

The Air Force is an enormous organization that is buried in red tape, and the Medical Group is among the worst. Obviously other career fields are in the same boat, however Medical is unifying in that everybody has to contact somebody in the Medical Group for some reason at least once a year.

To reliably get anything done, you need to be the one to initiate it. Only one person is truly responsible for your career: you. Be proactive about whatever the thing is you're supposed to do and know what you need.

Figure out when your TDY/RNLTD/Separation/Retirement/Vol By/Retraining window is. An estimate is better than nothing, and that alone will sometimes get the ball rolling. A deadline at least will put a date in your brain so you don't start the process 30 days later than you should have. Also know the MDG will rarely clear anybody for anything more than 180 days in the future.

So you want to talk to the right office to get everything started, but who to call? You need to have a decent idea of what the fuck you're talking about before calling the general appointment line. The knowledge-foundation of people who man the appointment phones is a wild crapshoot. Some have been working in the MDG a LONG time (i.e. longer than you've been alive) and care about your delicate, unique snowflake life. Some graduated tech school within 3 months and barely know how to tie their boots. Others just want a paycheck so they can go do whatever they do when not at work and have no desires for decent patient service. So before you pick up the phone, hit 0 and ask the base operator for the most generic possible number to the labyrinthine MDG, read whatever your poorly photo-copied instructions are, and hopefully the dunce putting it together had enough smarts to list a current POC and maybe cite a governing regulation. If so, give that regulation a quick glance; E-Pubs isn’t too tough to find, is it? I truly despise people who call because they were told to call, but did not perform the basic requisite of normal human interaction: know what the fuck you're talking about.

If you have zero guidance, spend at least 5 minutes worth of your best google-fu to find a starting point. If you still failed, ask your NCOIC, UCC/CSS, UDM, or First Sergeant who to call. These people exist only to help you--use them!

Public Health and Flight Medicine is another great starting point on your journey. My advice: don't call the appointment line until somebody tells you that you definitely need an appointment.

Additionally, know that your PCM (Primary Care Manager) team is usually the wrong place to start. They are near the finish line, not the beginning (see my previous blog post).

So the right person is doing what (you believe) you need. But did you ever get what you needed? Where's my signed form? Is this the right documentation?

Your regulation and standards from the person who gave you the application package is likely working with paperwork somebody put together 5 years ago and never bothered to read the references. I get requests every day for an outdated or straight-up now illegal/wrong standard (re: SPECAT). The technician often needs to research whatever the standard is, and that standard from the MPF might not jive with AFPC/AFMS or some other well-known publication that never got updated but people keep using.

So follow-up with the office that is processing your request. I'd recommend calling or e-mailing somebody about once a week just for a status update. More frequently than weekly will likely just piss them off, but weekly always keeps you somewhere in the back of their brain and aware of your request. You should generally not go in-person to the clinic. It creates a hassle as someone has to escort you to the office, and the right person may not even be in office.

Some future posts will have more information on who does what in the MDG, the PT exemptions process, and how to elevate concerns in the MDG.


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