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Military clinic offers dental care in rural Alabama

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Commander Dan Ratkus, a dentist with Volunteer Training Unit at the Naval Operational Support Command, Phoenix, Az.  and Senior Airman Daniel Micelli, a dental technician with the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, work on a patient, May 5, 2011. Ratkus and Micelli are in Alabama along with about sixty other medical professional from numerous military components and services for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Commander Dan Ratkus, a dentist with Volunteer Training Unit at the Naval Operational Support Command, Phoenix, Az. and Senior Airman Daniel Micelli, a dental technician with the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, work on a patient, May 5, 2011. Ratkus and Micelli are in Alabama along with about sixty other medical professional from numerous military components and services for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Maj . Michael Majchrowicz, a dentist with the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, works on a patient, May 5, 2011. Majchrowicz and about thirty-five other members from the Wing are in Alabama for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission.  The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. The Shower kits will be used by the men of the group during the 10-day mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Maj . Michael Majchrowicz, a dentist with the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, works on a patient, May 5, 2011. Majchrowicz and about thirty-five other members from the Wing are in Alabama for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. The Shower kits will be used by the men of the group during the 10-day mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. -- -- As a part of the medical component for the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission, the 176th Wing's Medical Group has two dental professionals deployed to this small Alabama town. This mission offers free medical services to the residents of this area and gives military personnel an opportunity to train.

The twenty-five member team from Alaska, along with another thirty military medical professionals from around the country, are also providing primary and vision care and mental health services.

Dental services at the free clinic, set up in the small town hall building, began May 3, but without their portable dental units the section was forced to improvise, using lawn furniture as their exam chairs. This became a blessing in disguise as it allowed for exams to be accomplished first and then appointments set-up for the more complicated oral problems.

By the end of the second day the portable units had arrived and were up and running. The dentists and dental technicians got down to business x-raying, cleaning, filling and pulling teeth. Business was brisk: By mid-afternoon on the clinic's fifth day, the dental section had seen 208 patients.

"I was amazed on the first day at how many people we were seeing. We saw eighty-seven people," said Senior Airman Daniel Micelli, a dental technician with the group. "It's also been a great way to get my hands-on training and I get to help people, too."

Vikinia Osborne, a Hayneville resident, commented, "There are a whole a lot of people here who don't have insurance and can't afford to go to the dentist. This has been really helpful."
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