A Win-Win for Everybody
By Senior Airman Julia Santiago, 108th Public Affairs Office
/ Published August 14, 2016
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Personnel from the Air National Guard, U.S. Army Reserves, and Navy Reserves provided no cost medical, dental, optometry, and veterinary services to local citizens from July 15 - 24, 2016 at Homer Intermediate School in Homer, N.Y.
The medical professionals participated in the Innovative Readiness Training to gain hands on experience with the community and the other U.S. military branches.
"This is my first time working with the Air Force, Navy, Army Reserves, and volunteers," said U.S. Army Capt. Michael Cruppenink, IRT Commander in Homer. "Working with all these people have made it a lot easier. Their opinions and ideas made the event go even smoother."
The IRT served two purposes. The first was to provide no cost healthcare to the community. Anyone in the area was able to come for health screenings and advice from professionals. If needed, they received referrals and prescriptions.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Linda Schoen, a worker from the health department. "I think it's wonderful how it brought the community together. Someone would be a fool to pass up a chance like this."
When members of the community came to the school, they were only asked for their name and any issues that were of concern. There were stations throughout the school dedicated to many areas such as medical screenings, dental, optometry, veterinary, and educational rooms on topics such as nutrition and diabetes.
"There were young kids who came in that were able to see for the first time," said Capt. Saurin Patel, an Optometrist from the 108th Medical Group. "They didn't know what it was like to see that clearly."
The second purpose of the event was to train personnel in an active environment. While many of the service members are full time medical workers, the IRT gave them a chance to step into leadership positions.
"Beside the hands on clinical work, the members are gaining experience with communicating and delegating between the services," said Cruppenink.
108th Medical Squadron Nurse Practitioner Lt. Col. Mauricia Alo agreed.
"The joint experience is a very enlightening and exciting experience," said Alo. "This event has really brought the best out of each of the services. I feel very privileged to serve the community and next to other service members."
The IRT is an ongoing effort by the Department of Defense to provide "real world training opportunities for our service members and units to prepare them for their wartime missions while supporting the needs of America's underserved communities," according to the DoD's website Defense.gov.