Healing forces unite: Northwest Arkansas Wellness IRT mission transforms lives Published July 25, 2023 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.” Healing forces unite: Northwest Arkansas Wellness IRT mission transforms lives U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Samantha Brooner, 132nd Medical Group medic, takes a patient's blood pressure in Yellville, Arkansas, July 10, 2023. Brooner and more than 180 U.S. service members provided no-cost services through the Innovative Readiness Training program . IRT introduces the Department of Defense to communities that may have limited contact with the military, offering the opportunity to provide needed services while building rapport. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kate Bragg) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Healing forces unite: Northwest Arkansas Wellness IRT mission transforms lives U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Marquee Chambers, 910th Medical Squadron dental technician, performs a dental X-Ray on a patient during Innovation Readiness Training in Yellville, Arkansas, July 13, 2023. No-cost dental services were provided to the local community as part of the Northwest Arkansas Wellness IRT medical mission. IRT is a Department of Defense (DOD) military training opportunity that delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kate Bragg) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Healing forces unite: Northwest Arkansas Wellness IRT mission transforms lives U.S. Army Capt. Timothy Beck, a veterinarian assigned to the 7361st Veterinary Detachment, treats a dog during the Northwest Arkansas Wellness Innovative Readiness Training mission in Yellville, Arkansas, July 13, 2023. The IRT mission provided no-cost veterinary, dental, medical, and optometry services to area residents and allowed for realistic training for troops participating. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kate Bragg) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Healing forces unite: Northwest Arkansas Wellness IRT mission transforms lives U.S. Army Corporal Joshua Flowers, an Optical Laboratory Specialist assigned to the Naval Opthalmic Readiness Activity, prepares a set of eyeglasses at Mountain Home, Arkansas, July 14, 2023. Flowers and the NORA team took part in Northwest Arkansas Wellness, an Innovative Readiness Training mission. NORA members created eyeglasses based on prescriptions gained from Airmen and Soldiers conducting no-cost eye exams at a medical clinic in Yellville, Arkansas. Medical IRTs provide needed services for local residents and realistic training for participating troops. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Tylon Chapman) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res 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.