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

COVID presents new set of challenges for DOD environmental health

Image of 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:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | 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...

Compromised Immune System

Infographic
2/3/2022
Compromised Immune System

Do you have a compromised immune system? The CDC recommends you get an additional primary dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

Preteens Teens Can Get Boosted Too

Infographic
2/3/2022
Preteens Teens Can Get Boosted Too

Preteens and Teens can get boosted, too! The CDC recommends a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for preteens/teens ages 12 and older, 5 months after their second shot.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Vaccines for Children

VaxFacts: Should I get a booster?

Infographic
2/3/2022
VaxFacts: Should I get a booster?

Should I get a COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts

DOD COVID-19 Practice Management Guide Version 8

Technical Document
1/31/2022

This Practice Management Guide does not supersede DOD Policy. It is based upon the best information available at the time of publication. It is designed to provide information and assist decision making. It is not intended to define a standard of care and should not be construed as one. Neither should it be interpreted as prescribing an exclusive course of management. It was developed by experts in this field. Variations in practice will inevitably and appropriately occur when clinicians take into account the needs of individual patients, available resources, and limitations unique to an institution or type of practice. Every healthcare professional making use of this guideline is responsible for evaluating the appropriateness of applying it in the setting of any particular clinical situation. The Practice Management Guide is not intended to represent TRICARE policy. Further, inclusion of recommendations for specific testing and/or therapeutic interventions within this guide does not guarantee coverage of civilian sector care. Additional information on current TRICARE benefits may be found at www.tricare.mil or by contacting your regional TRICARE Managed Care Support Contractor.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

Formulary Search Tool Buckslip (Page 1)

Infographic
1/27/2022
Formulary Search Tool Buckslip (Page 1)

The front side of a buck slip. Educates beneficiaries what the search tool is and what information can be found. Links to esrx.com/tform. Has three graphics grouped together on the right hand side.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Pharmacy Operations Toolkit

Formulary Search Tool Buckslip (Page 2)

Infographic
1/27/2022
Formulary Search Tool Buckslip (Page 2)

The back side of a buck slip. Educates beneficiaries what the search tool is and what information can be found. QR code is on the right and links to the search tool. The TRICARE and Express Scripts logo are on the bottom left.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Pharmacy Operations Toolkit

Oregon National Guard surging to support hospitals again

Article Around MHS
1/27/2022
Oregon Army National Guard touring a hospital

Hundreds of Oregon National Guard members are increasing support of hospitals throughout the state in their second hospital relief mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Readiness Capabilities

Formulary Search Tool Buckslip: Black and White

Publication
1/27/2022

A set of three, black & white buck slips on the TRICARE Formulary Search Tool. Educates beneficiaries what the search tool is and what information can be found. Includes a QR code, and features a link to esrx.com/tform. ESI and TRICARE logos are on the bottom right.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Pharmacy Operations Toolkit

Formulary Search Tool Buckslip: Color

Publication
1/27/2022

A color copy of buck slips on the TRICARE Formulary Search Tool. Educates beneficiaries what the search tool is and what information can be found. Includes a QR code, and features a link to esrx.com/tform. ESI and TRICARE logos are on the bottom right.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Pharmacy Operations Toolkit

Public Health nurses offer insights on living with COVID-19 now, looking into future

Article Around MHS
1/25/2022
The Challenges of Living with COVID

One of the more challenging jobs for any public health professional is dealing with unpredictability inherent in outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Do You Have COVID-19? Influenza? Or is it RSV? Here’s What to Look For

Article
1/24/2022
Military personnel preparing a COVID-19 test sample for processing

Knowing the symptoms of COVID-19/RSV/Flu will help your medical treatment

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine | Coronavirus

Medical Leaders Address COVID-19 Concerns During Family Forum

Article
1/21/2022
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jemuel Macabali, from San Diego, Calif., gives the COVID-19 vaccine to staff at Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti, Aug. 13, 2021.

Top health leaders talk about the recent spike in COVID-19 infections and the impact on the military community.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Navy Hospital Corpsman steps into the breach in the war on COVID-19

Article Around MHS
1/18/2022
Hospitalman Hector Conde standing in front of a immunization office's refrigeration

First responders and those fighting on the medical battleground have earned well-deserved recognition for their efforts.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Critically ill COVID Patient Delivers Baby While on Heart-Lung Bypass

Article
1/11/2022
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hernandez and his wife, Ashley, take a family portrait with their six children. Ashley is BAMC’s first patient to give birth while on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.

Hernandez, a Marine Corps spouse and mother of five, is BAMC’s first patient to give birth while on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Coronavirus

Quarantine vs Isolation

Infographic
1/10/2022
Quarantine vs Isolation

Been exposed or feeling symptoms of COVID-19? Make sure you understand the difference between quarantine and isolation to keep your community safe. https://tricare.mil/coronavirus

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 31 - 45 Page 3 of 34
Refine your search
Last Updated: April 28, 2021

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.