Alaska air guardsmen provide medical care to Hawaiians
By Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger, 176 WG
/ Published June 10, 2013
LANAI, Hawaii -- Forty-five Alaska military personnel from Air and Army Guard and active-duty Air Force are running medical clinics for medically-underserved Hawaiians on the islands of Lanai, Molokai and Maui as part of a two-week Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) project June 4 to 12.
The group is providing care such as optometry, dentistry, physical exams, public health assessments, medical equipment repair and grief consoling.
The Alaskans joined about 500 other military personnel from multiple components of the Air Force, Army and Navy at six sites across four Hawaiian Islands as a joint training mission called TROPIC CARE 2013 - the largest IRT mission since the program began.
"It's a two-fold benefit for the tax payer," said Lt. Col. Sharolyn Lange, the 176 Medical Group commander and Lanai team lead. "Not only are we training and getting our war skills up, we're actually taking care of Americans."
The National Guard Bureau's Innovative Readiness Training program is meant to meet mission-essential training while lending a helping hand to deserving communities and organizations. Entities applying for assistance must demonstrate standards such as level of need. Hawaii is classified with several medically-underserved areas and populations, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
At a community-sponsored opening ceremony on Lanai, a part of Maui County, the mayor expressed appreciation to the troops.
"Thank you very much for all that you do," said Alan Arakawa, the Mayor of Maui County. "The people of Maui County really do appreciate it. This is a very, very wonderful thing most of us are going to remember for a long time."