Public health sergeant making his mark at Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff SSgt. Travis Heath reviews physicals to make sure Airmen are fit to serve. The Public Health Flight was able to approve 500 Airmen to deploy around the world in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Wesley Carter)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Travis Heath reviews physicals to make sure Airmen are fit to serve. The 30th Medical Operations Squadron Public Health Flight approved around 500 Airmen to deploy around the world in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Wesley Carter)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A barrage of paperwork coming across his desk isn't what Staff Sgt. Travis Heath had in mind when he cross-trained from security forces to public health two years ago. However, without someone doing the job Sergeant Heath does, the 30th Security Forces members, along with the rest of the base, would be staying home.

Public Health is responsible for medical needs that are vital for deployment like hearing conservation, immunizations and physical fitness profiles.

The Public Health NCOIC with the 30th Medical Operations Squadron spends his working hours managing public health, looking over deployments and mentoring an Airman he supervises.

"I spend part of my day checking in on my young Airman, making sure he is on top of his game," Sergeant Heath said.

"Sergeant Heath is very hard working," said Airman Brian Cardenas, a 30th MDOS Public Health technician. "He lets you try to figure things out and if you're not getting it he will jump in and help you."

One of their duties is checking facilities on base for cleanliness. The cleanliness inspections also consist of inspecting the food in the dining facilities on base, Sergeant Heath said.

The role of public health on an Air Force base is vital, but not near as important as it is in a deployed environment.

"In a deployed location, the nationals of the country do a lot of the cooking, so public health has to inspect their food handling and make sure it is at the same standard as ours," Sergeant Heath said. "We also give briefings on health hazards that are specific to a deployed location."

When the workday is over, Sergeant Heath usually heads home to his wife and 16-month-old boy. The South Carolina native tries to travel with his family to see more of California and to just get away from work, he said.

When Sergeant Heath isn't at work or with his family, he can be found studying to finish his degree in criminal justice.

"I am just about through with my Community College of the Air Force associates degree in criminal justice, and I will be moving on to my bachelors soon," Sergeant Heath said.

The dedication Sergeant Heath has to his job is a direct correlation of the relationship that the 30th Public Health squadron has to continuously keeping Vandenberg safe, clean and healthy.