KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Four Reserve Citizen Airmen from different career fields within the 403rd Wing’s Aeromedical Staging Squadron provided healthcare to three communities in three states as part of Delta Wellness Mission 2021, which ran from July 6 - 20.
“Delta Wellness is a total-force mission spanning the ‘delta’ region of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana,” said Capt. Kaitlyn Olive, Greenville site assistant officer in charge. “Our mission is to provide healthcare services such as dental, medical, optometry, mental health, physical therapy, pharmacy, and other services, at no cost to the community.”
Two hundred and seventy-four service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps worked on a joint-service medical mission that provided hands-on training to service members while providing medical care to residents of Greenville, Mississippi; Lake Village, Arkansas Lake Providence, Louisiana and surrounding areas.
“The gain of taking on this mission was creating a network of military members from all over the nation to serve in our communities,” said Capt. Jennifer Rosa, Lake Village site assistant OIC. “It allowed the community to trust in our healthcare and show them that we provide the best of the best service among all branches that were there.”
The partnership between the Delta Regional Authority and the U.S. Military’s reserve forces, supports the Innovative Readiness Training program in the Delta communities.
Innovative Readiness Training is a collaborative program that leverages military services and community resources to assist people with basic medical, dental, optometry and other care at no cost.
“Resources are limited in the delta region with many patients lacking the ability to afford healthcare that they need,” said Olive. “Many of our patients have shared stories of lost loved ones at an early age due to untreated health conditions, which could have been managed. Others communicated that they rely on buses that can take them to Jackson, Mississippi for higher levels of care; but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the buses have not been running their normal schedule. Many of our patients are receiving their first eye exam in five years.”
The military provides personnel and training, while the local communities assist with supplies and facilities to treat patients.
Throughout the mission, training encompassed more than just healthcare; it provided joint members with an additional combatives training, 9-line medical evacuation, K-9 self-aid buddy care and land navigation.
“I learned to have patience with many of the people that came,” said Rosa. “Many people couldn’t see the documents they had to fill out so I sat with several people and helped fill out their personal information. I also learned that no matter what branch of service or rank someone holds, we all had to work together and make sure the community was taken care of.”
In total, there were more than 2,500 patients cared for and 13,000 total procedures that were collectively valued at approximately $900,000 at no cost to community members. The other ASTS members in support of Delta Wellness were Master Sgt. Kristin Chandler, Greenville site optometry noncommissioned officer in charge, and Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Wilmot, Lake Providence site dental tech.
“At first, I was overwhelmed with the lack of services at our location,” said Olive. “There was no hot water, our cots were delayed, the (air conditioning) wasn't working well, and I had worked 18 hour days for the past 10 days. However, these patients are so appreciative of the care we are providing. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”