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Pennsylvania Airmen serve nearly 5,000 meals in IRT project

  • Published
  • By Maj. Nicole M Reigelman,
  • Joint Force Headquarters - Pennsylvania National Guard

DOVER, Del. – Napoleon is credited with observing that “An Army marches on its stomach” – underscoring the vital role that suitable provisions like food have played in executing military operations for centuries.

The same holds today. Just ask the 16-member team that planned, ordered, prepared and served nearly 5,000 meals to more than 215 military service members participating in the Central Delaware Partnership for Hope. During the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) project, service members offered no-cost health care to community members.

IRT is a Department of Defense program that enables military personnel to reinforce their skills, improve their readiness, and strengthen ties to the community by collaborating with local partners to benefit communities across the country.

During the Dover project – dubbed a “health care blitz” by the local community – members of the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve and Navy Reserve delivered medical care such as eye exams, dental exams, and behavioral health and nutrition consultations to community members free.

Treating thousands of patients easily qualified the event as a success. But it was also a valuable training and readiness opportunity for small teams of Services and Personnel Support for Contingency Operations (PERSCO) Guard members. They ensured that health care providers were housed, fed and prepared for work each day.

Pennsylvania Air National Guard Capt. Matt Robinson led the Hope Services and PERSCO teams, which included Army and Air Guard members from Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Maryland.

Robinson said executing the mission required several months of planning and coordination that started in late 2020, largely via teleconference.

“It was rewarding to see our Airmen and Soldiers join together and work effectively as a team after only a few days on-site,” Robinson said. “It was also great to see everyone apply the skills they’d been refining for months or years in a real-world operation that benefited the community.”

Aside from the team focused on meal preparation and service, two Airmen served on a PERSCO team. PERSCO coordinated transportation to and from the Philadelphia airport for service members and medical equipment, briefed each member upon arrival, ensured daily transportation to the three community worksites, and secured comfortable lodging at Delaware State University’s Wesley Campus.

“There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of a complex operation like the Dover IRT project,” Robinson said. “Our Services and PERSCO teams are the backbone of projects like these; they are at the core of operations and help make the overall project a success.”

The Central Delaware Partnership for Hope IRT project wrapped up Aug. 12.