Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

COVID presents new set of challenges for DOD environmental health

Group of Marines, snowshoeing through the snow U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 11, 1st Marine Logistics Group, conduct a "snowshoe tour" during Mountain Exercise 2-18 at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California. (Photo by Marine Corps Sgt. James Trevino, 1st Marine Logistics Group.)

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness Toolkit | Total Force Fitness Toolkit | Total Force Fitness Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Total Force Fitness

Total Force Fitness is a fundamental element of the Department of Defense’s National Defense Strategy.

Helping to “Build a More Lethal Force,” Total Force Fitness focuses on a service member’s overall health over the duration of their career, including physical, environmental, spiritual, psychological, social, and financial components.

One of the most important factors to take into account when maintaining one’s overall fitness is physical environment, and the ability to perform tasks in a multitude of operational environments. That includes being provided with the correct equipment or reducing excessive exposure to natural elements, such as heat or cold, or chemical, biological, or radiological factors.

Environmental health within the DOD includes monitoring factors including temperature, air, water, and soil, as well as identifying issues that may impact military and civilian employees both on base and within local communities.

“Right now, we’re obviously concerned about cold weather impacts to our workers, and we want to make sure they’re using the right PPE (personal protective equipment) to be able to perform the mission. They have to be issued gloves and parkas and the types of equipment to be able to continue that mission,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Elisa Hammer, Environmental Health Program manager for the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General. “Likewise, if it’s hot weather, we want to make sure folks are implementing work-rest cycles, hydrating, and staying in the shade or maybe even recommend ice packs if that’s not possible.”

Hammer explained how the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a new set of unique operational challenges. She cited the examples of airmen on the flight line or sailors on the flight deck, where social distancing may not always be possible, but “masking up” may be an issue as well.

“In order for them to do their job in a COVID environment, they have to mask up,” Hammer said. “The problem with masking up is that, if it’s a disposable mask or a mask that could fly off, that’s a big problem. That’s FOD (foreign object debris).”

Ideally, service members should always try to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance – wear a mask, maintain social distance, wash your hands frequently, and avoid crowds whenever possible, she stated.

For Hammer’s office, Total Force Fitness applies to work and play, within and outside of an environment in which COVID is a concern.

“We want to make sure that people are living, working, and playing in clean air,” Hammer said.

This includes minimizing risk factors associated with wildfires, sandstorms, and other local threats, and providing recommendations to base or deployed commanders on how to mitigate those risks.

“It could be something like contamination from a past fuel spill that’s still in the soil. We want to make sure that people who are running or jogging aren’t doing it on that part of an installation,” she said.

“What we really specialize in is trying to identify those threats and making sure there is no receptor, meaning no human being, on the other end of that threat that could be exposed to that contamination.”

Clean drinking water is also one of her primary concerns.

“Of course we want to provide clean water for drinking,” Hammer said. “We follow state, federal, DOD, and Air Force guidelines to make sure we’re complying with health standards.”

This is especially important in deployed locations, where bottled water or potable water tanks must be provided to avoid using local, untested sources.

Hammer said that she foresees some positive outcomes garnered from lessons learned from the pandemic.

“The CDC recommendations are temporary, but I think it changes us permanently. It’s really caused us to take a look at how to provide clean indoor air,” she said. “I think a lot of people are thinking about the future and how we can prevent another COVID or something similar. What can be do about our facilities? How do we maintain or upgrade ventilation systems and what can we do differently? How much outdoor air needs to be introduced into the indoor environment? How can we improve circulation? There’s been a lot of good studies on modification of HVAC systems and industry standards are being modified and updated.”

Hammer said that if she could make only one recommendation regarding environmental health, it would be to get outside as much as possible.

You also may be interested in...

More Than 95% of Active Duty Have Received COVID-19 Vaccine

Article
10/15/2021
Female hospital corpsman gives a COVID-19 vaccine injection to a sailor in her left arm

Service members continue to line up for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

USECAF receives insight into COVID19 vaccinations at Reserve wing

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visits with 433rd Airlift Wing members at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited the 433rd Airlift Wing here to meet with Reserve Citizen Airmen leaders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Oct. 2, 2021.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

Mask Mouth Does Not Exist, Dentists Say

Article
10/6/2021
A bunch of children wearing face masks walk on a city street.

Mask mouth doesn’t exist, Internet chatter to the contrary, dentists say.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Compassionate Caring with COVID Vax Commitment

Article Around MHS
10/6/2021
A  female doctor poses for a photo.

When pregnant patients have an appointment with Lt. Cmdr. Megan Northup at Naval Hospital Bremerton, they get more than a qualified and caring OB/GYN physician.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Health Promotion duo optimizes health on Incirlik Air Base

Article Around MHS
9/30/2021
Air Force Capt. Sydney Sloan, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion element chief (right), and Air Force Senior Airman Gloriann Manapsal, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion technician (left), promote making healthy choices at the Sultan’s Inn Dining Facility on Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The 39th Operation Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion team provides and integrates evidence-based programs to optimize the health and readiness, even during these unprecedented times.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Shots are Now Available – What You Need to Know

Article
9/30/2021
Containers of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Each vial contains six doses for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Booster shots are now recommended for millions of people – but many others will have to wait for additional approvals.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Myths & facts about the vax - debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths

Article
9/29/2021
Myths and facts about the vax

The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Retired colonel leads Fort Irwin COVID response mission

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
Army Col. Richard Hopkins, the COVID-19 response coordinator with Weed Army Community Hospital, collects paperwork from a Soldier who received the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination event.

Retired Army Col. Richard Hopkins volunteered under the Army’s COVID-19 Retiree Recall Program to return to service as the COVID-19 response coordinator for Weed Army Community Hospital and Fort Irwin, California.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

ARNORTH military support to FEMA begins in Tennessee, continues in five states

Article Around MHS
9/24/2021
Prepared COVID-19 vaccine shots wait to be administered to an Airman. Members of the 134th Air Refueling Wing were eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines during Unit Training Assembly here May 2nd, 2021.

At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, approximately 20 military medical personnel deployed to Tennessee to support civilian healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients in local hospitals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DODEA Schools Keeps On With In-Person Classes, and Fall Sports, Too

Article
9/23/2021
Kids playing football

DODEA schools are striving to continue in-person learning in the 2021-22 school year.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Coronavirus

COVID-19 can lead to long-term health concerns

Article Around MHS
9/23/2021
Debra Lamb, a 30-year civil service veteran at Ft. Carson, contracted the COVID-19 virus late in 2020 and experienced a harrowing ordeal before partially recovering months later.

Debra Lamb, a 30-year civil service veteran at Ft. Carson, contracted the COVID-19 virus late in 2020 and experienced a harrowing ordeal before partially recovering months later.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

6th Medical Group Delivers Mandatory Vaccines

Article Around MHS
9/21/2021
An Airman from the 6th Medical Group prepares a COVID-19 vaccine for distribution at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Airmen from the 6th Medical Group began redistributing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, on Sept. 9, 2021. This comes after the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum on Aug. 23, 2021, mandating all active duty personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Get to Know the Vaccines

Publication
9/17/2021

A graphic showing the types of vaccines, how they work, and safety monitoring of the vaccines. Includes the MHS and TRICARE logos on the bottom right, and includes graphics of scientists, doctors, and patients.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

Get to know the COVID19 Vaccines

Publication
9/17/2021

Get to know the vaccines – they do not contain the live virus, they do not interact with our DNA, and have been tested rigorously.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

Vaccines for Teens

Infographic
9/17/2021
Adolescents can get COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine has been tested for those ages 12-15. Visit www.TRICARE.mil/VaccineAppointments to make an appointment.

A graphic showing the types of vaccines, how they work, and safety monitoring of the vaccines. Includes the MHS and TRICARE logos on the bottom right, and includes graphics of scientists, doctors, and patients.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | Vaccine Eligibility
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 43

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.