Joint mission brings health care to Alabama residents|
by Melissa Catham
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs
5/10/2012 - SELMA, Ala. (AFNS) -- The Air National Guard and other service members provided free health care to Alabama residents during innovative readiness training mission Alabama Care 2012 in Demopolis, Hayneville and here May 1-10.
Alabama Care 2012 focused on deployment and readiness training in a joint-service environment while simultaneously providing free medical, dental and ophthalmology services to the community.
The ANG led the IRT multiservice mission, which was composed of active duty, Reserve and National Guard members from Army, Navy and Air Force components.
"This is huge for me ... I've never trained in a multiservice environment," said Navy Cmdr. Carmen Bios, from the Navy Operational Health Support Virginia, Delta Detachment. "We all pull together for one mission. I feel very fortunate. We are helping people and, for me, that is very rewarding."
IRT provides real-world training opportunities for service members and units to prepare them for wartime missions while supporting the needs of America's underserved communities.
"Military members focus on training their junior enlisted and officers, which assists them in gaining knowledge and enhances their skills in a deployed environment," said Air Force Col. Jerry Arends, the IRT mission director for Alabama Care 2012. "Some reservists don't have the same (civilian) job as they do in the military, and Alabama Care gives them the opportunity to train on their career skill sets working with real patients and special equipment. (They also receive) training that they otherwise could not receive back at their unit."
Alabama Care 2012 is a health care initiative and premier world-class field training event for all the service members who participate. The mission provides significant, valuable and realistic training in a deployed environment helping to shape future leaders, officials said.
"My doctors have wanted me to be in charge of operations so I can have increased responsibility and get involved," said Senior Airman Javier Perez, of the 439th Aerospace Medical Squadron at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. "Back at the home unit, I don't get many opportunities to be put in charge. Members should definitely experience an IRT mission; you get to train, see different parts of the country, meet different people -- it's just something everyone should do."
IRT missions provide Airmen like Perez an opportunity to have a leading role in patient care and other critical skills as well as gain joint service experience by working in a multiservice environment while providing a valued service to a local community.
Incidental to military readiness training, Alabama Care 2012 provides medical, dental and optometric care as well as civil engineering support to assist local health and municipal authorities in addressing underserved, unmet community health and civic needs while increasing the quality of life for local residents.
"If you look at the line we have today, it's a true blessing that (the military) came here to help, and I want to thank God for the military being here," said one Alabama resident. "It is so beneficial. We have a lot of people with diabetes. People need to go to the dentists but can't afford it. I thank the military and Selma Mayor (George P.) Evans for allowing Alabama Care to come to Dallas County, Selma."