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Healing forces unite: Northwest Arkansas Wellness IRT mission transforms lives

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kate Bragg
  • 307th Bomb Wing

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. -- Nestled among the Ozark mountains, the towns of Yellville and Mountain Home, Arkansas, became a military training and service hub as they welcomed the Northwest Arkansas Wellness Innovative Readiness Training mission from July 8-21.

IRT is a Department of Defense military training opportunity exclusive to the United States and its territories. These missions offer vital services to communities while providing joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness among U.S. service members.

The Northwest Arkansas Wellness mission provided over $700,000 of no-cost medical and veterinary care to more than 1,500 regional patients. A DOD training budget covered all costs.

“We are trying to increase our readiness by thinking outside of the box in that innovative sense,” said Northwest Arkansas Wellness mission officer in charge, Maj. Ethan Anticevich.

According to Anticevich, more than 180 personnel from over 20 units were tasked to the mission, including Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard troops, as well as active-duty Navy and Air Force personnel.

Collectively, the participating troops logged more than 22,000 training hours in an environment closely resembling deployed conditions.

“From nuts to bolts, we’re building this whole mission,” said Anticevich. “We will be ready for that austere location based on this kind of training.”

Pfc. Brian Fadool, a behavioral health technician assigned to the 7457th Medical Battalion, was one of several troops serving their first IRT mission.

“Working in an environment where my MOS (military occupational specialty) skills are being used is great,” said Fadool. “Once you start interacting with people who actually need the services that you’re providing, you get to really promote what you’ve been trained to do.”

The mission wove a tapestry of key services, including veterinary care, dental care, basic medical services, and optometry care. All the services resulted from a community partnership between the Delta Regional Authority and the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District.

“The military is providing funding for this opportunity for our community, which is greatly appreciated,” said Tina Cole, NWAEDD community development coordinator. “There is just a tremendous need.”

Six years ago was the last time an IRT mission came to the area. Cole helped submit the application for that mission and the current one.

“When we had our last mission, even before the military folks departed, I probably had fifty phone calls wanting to know when we would do it again,” said Cole.

In addition to working with the community, the service members completed military-specific training courses, including Tactical Combat Casualty Care. The IRT mission provided an ideal platform for the time-intensive course.

“We were able to get five instructors to train over 60 members on all three levels of TCCC,” said Senior Master Sgt. Stacia Spencer, non-commissioned officer-in-charge of training.

The three levels of TCCC are medical personnel, combat lifesaver, and all service Members.

Northwest Arkansas Wellness forged strong bonds of trust between American citizens and the military.

Julie Hampton, who received services at the Yellville IRT clinic, expressed that sentiment as she left the building.

“It keeps me believing, and I can’t thank y’all enough,” she said.