ROBINS AFB, Ga. --
During the Ozark Highlands 2017 Innovative Readiness Training event in June, Reserve Citizen Airmen were able to provide residents in the area around Ozark, Arkansas, with life-changing medical care.
In this IRT operational exercise, Air Force Reserve Command took the lead in providing no-cost medical and dental care for residents in northern Arkansas. IRT operational exercises are joint service and occur multiple times a year in various locations throughout the nation in partnership with other federal, state and local organizations.
Master Sgt. James Finley, 927th Aeromedical Staging Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge for education and training at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, served as NCO in charge of the IRT for Ozark Highlands and explained the events are excellent opportunities to train with sister services.
“You get the ability to learn their language and their culture,” Finley said. “In all of these joint environments, this is a fantastic way for Reservists to begin to get a feeling for the way that they’re going to be working with their counterparts downrange or wherever they are going to be stationed.”
In preparing for Ozark Highlands 2017 and in the spirit of the joint mission, Finley contacted a local Army recruiter to see how the event could support recruiting efforts.
Finley offered to show recruits who were interested in the medical field the chance to see the type of work they would be doing in the military and be mentored during the IRT. In addition to the mentorship opportunities, the Army recruiter had a somewhat unique request to aid in his recruiting.
Beyond the mentoring, the recruiter said he had four recruits who required assistance because they didn’t have insurance or the funds necessary to get the medical care they needed to be cleared to enter military service.
After Finley and the IRT team prioritized the individuals in need of care, he was able to fit the four in for the medical and dental assistance they needed.
“When they showed up to our sites, I met with the recruiter and assisted the recruits in receiving the medical care they needed,” he said.
Maj. Anna Hill, Headquarters AFRC IRT program manager at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, explained that there were 56 Air Force Reservists who participated in the week-long event across a wide variety of Air Force Specialty Codes.
“We work with AFRC Surgeon General to find our sharp unit personnel to serve as mission leadership and, with our assistance, they plan and execute the mission,” Hill said. “This is an incredible leadership and growth opportunity for our reservists to work in a high-level joint operation.”
In 2016, AFRC participated in five medical IRT events and this year served as lead during three: Arctic Care, Cass Lake and Ozark Highlands.
“AFRC IRT wants to continue to seek the lead where we have the capability and the ability to do so,” she said.
For more information about the Ozark Highlands 2017 IRT, go to http://www.afrc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1216281/citizen-airmen-soldiers-and-sailors-provide-no-cost-medical-care-to-remote-comm/.