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Air National Guardsmen provide no-cost healthcare at Alabama IRT

Capt. Nikita Dunbar, an Air National Guard critical-care nurse from the 187th Fighter Wing CERFP in Montgomery, Ala., takes a patient's blood pressure at the Alabama Wellness Innovative Readiness Training at Monroe County High School in Monroeville, Ala., June 3, 2018. Air Guardsmen from Alabama and Wisconsin were part of the joint force participating in the two-week training that provided no-cost health care to the citizens of lower Alabama. (US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jared Rand)

Capt. Nikita Dunbar, an Air National Guard critical-care nurse from the 187th Fighter Wing CERFP in Montgomery, Ala., takes a patient's blood pressure at the Alabama Wellness Innovative Readiness Training at Monroe County High School in Monroeville, Ala., June 3, 2018. Air Guardsmen from Alabama and Wisconsin were part of the joint force participating in the two-week training that provided no-cost health care to the citizens of lower Alabama. (US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jared Rand)

MONROEVILLE, Ala. -- Approximately 60 Air National Guardsmen from the 187th Fighter Wing in Montgomery, Ala., the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wis., and the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee, Wis. are receiving valuable deployment readiness training and providing no-cost healthcare to the citizens of lower Alabama during the 2018 Alabama Wellness Innovative Readiness Training Mission.

Innovative Readiness Training is a Department of Defense military training opportunity that delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness, while providing care for the communities hosting the missions. In the Alabama Wellness mission, U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen are working with U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and U.S. Navy Reserve Sailors to provide no-cost health care such as dental work, optometry exams, health screenings, chaplain and psychological support, and more.

“The mission allows our military members to train on things that they don’t always get a chance to train on making them more prepared for a deployment,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Patrice Walgenbach, the Monroeville site officer in charge and the chief of nursing at the 115th FW. “The mission also benefits the people in the community by providing resources they might not always have access to, such as dental work or eye care.”

Being in a joint training environment also allows the military members to experience scenarios that will prepare them for future deployments.

“Each service has their own vernacular and way of doing things,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Chambers, the Thomasville site officer in charge and physician with the 187th FW. “This training has been incredibly valuable to simulate a deployed environment and has allowed us to learn a lot about each other and other branches.”

The combination of services and variety of doctors, nurses, dentists, and other medical professionals allow for the evaluation and treatment of hundreds of patients a day on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“You guys have helped me save nearly $1,000 on health care,” said Frank Finley, a dental patient at the Thomasville site from Sunny South, Ala. “This has really been a great deal for me and my wife.”