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Wing optometrists do big business in Alabama

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Sandy Hernandez, a hospital corpsman from the Operational Health Support Unit, San Diego, Detachment  J, checks the visual acuity of a patient, May 3, 2011.  Hernandez is 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 Petty Officer 3rd Class Sandy Hernandez, a hospital corpsman from the Operational Health Support Unit, San Diego, Detachment J, checks the visual acuity of a patient, May 3, 2011. Hernandez is 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. - Capt. Andrew Adamich, an optometrist from the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, performs a sight test with a phoropter on a patient to determine her eyeglass prescription, May 3, 2011.  Adamich and about 35 other members from the 176th 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.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Capt. Andrew Adamich, an optometrist from the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, performs a sight test with a phoropter on a patient to determine her eyeglass prescription, May 3, 2011. Adamich and about 35 other members from the 176th 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. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Col. Ronald Kichura, an optometrist from and commander of the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, performs a cover test to check his patient?s eye alignment, May 3, 2011. Kichura and about 35 other members from the 176th 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. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Col. Ronald Kichura, an optometrist from and commander of the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, performs a cover test to check his patient?s eye alignment, May 3, 2011. Kichura and about 35 other members from the 176th 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. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Capt. Andrew Adamich, an optometrist from the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, uses a portable slit lamp biomicroscope on his patient to get a magnified view of his eye, May 4, 2011. Adamich and about 35 other members from the 176th 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.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Capt. Andrew Adamich, an optometrist from the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, uses a portable slit lamp biomicroscope on his patient to get a magnified view of his eye, May 4, 2011. Adamich and about 35 other members from the 176th 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. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Col. Ronald Kichura, an optometrist from and commander of the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, checks the prescription on a patient?s eye glasses, May 4, 2011. Kichura and about 35 other members from the 176th 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. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Col. Ronald Kichura, an optometrist from and commander of the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard, checks the prescription on a patient?s eye glasses, May 4, 2011. Kichura and about 35 other members from the 176th 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. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Trays of prefabricated lenses are set aside to used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Trays of prefabricated lenses are set aside to used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Boxes of eyeglass frames are set aside to used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Boxes of eyeglass frames are set aside to used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Phillip Cowger, an optician stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. and U.S. Army Spc. Louis Reuter III, an optical lab specialist stationed at Fort Eustis, Va., collect lenses to be used  for eyeglasses that will be given out for free, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Phillip Cowger, an optician stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. and U.S. Army Spc. Louis Reuter III, an optical lab specialist stationed at Fort Eustis, Va., collect lenses to be used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Army Spc. Louis Reuter III, an optical lab specialist stationed at Fort Eustis, Va., identifies the left lens with a crayon, May, 2011. The lens will be used  for eyeglasses that will be given out for free. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Army Spc. Louis Reuter III, an optical lab specialist stationed at Fort Eustis, Va., identifies the left lens with a crayon, May, 2011. The lens will be used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Army Spc. Louis Reuter III, an optical lab specialist stationed at Fort Eustis, Va., locates the prescription area for a patient on a prefabricated lens, May, 2011. The lens will be used  for eyeglasses that will be given out for free. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.
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HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Army Spc. Louis Reuter III, an optical lab specialist stationed at Fort Eustis, Va., locates the prescription area for a patient on a prefabricated lens, May, 2011. The lens will be used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - A lens is cut to size by the edger machine, May 5, 2011. The lens will be used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.
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HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - A lens is cut to size by the edger machine, May 5, 2011. The lens will be used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Phillip Cowger, an optician stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. sands down the sharp edge of a lens, May 5, 2011. The lens will be used  for eyeglasses that will be given out for free. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.
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HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Phillip Cowger, an optician stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. sands down the sharp edge of a lens, May 5, 2011. The lens will be used for eyeglasses that will be given out for free. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Phillip Cowger, an optician stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. places lenses into frames, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.
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HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Phillip Cowger, an optician stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. places lenses into frames, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Phillip Cowger, an optician stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. helps DeAnna Martin with her new glasses, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission.  Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.
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HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Phillip Cowger, an optician stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. helps DeAnna Martin with her new glasses, May 5, 2011. The eyeglasses were a part of the optometry services offered under the 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. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for the IRT mission. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. -- -- Three optometrists -- including two from the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Medical Group -- deployed to this small Alabama town May 1 to help host a free medical clinic for residents, of this area, which historically has been underserved by the health care community. During the 12-day deployment, the doctors will conduct vision screening, perform glaucoma and cataract testing, and write prescriptions for eyeglasses. Medical technicians on the deployment then take those prescriptions, cut lenses to fit a variety of attractive frames, and give them to the patients free of charge.

"I've been surprised by how much of the health problem such as glaucoma and cataracts have been taken care of by the patients and their doctors, but I am still amazed by the amount of people down here who do suffer from hypertension and diabetes -- even with knowing about the history of this area being a part of the 'diabetes belt'," said Col. Ron Kinchura, one of the 176th Medical Group's two optometrists and its commanding officer.

In all, twenty-five members of the medical group are here providing services. In addition to vision care, the military members are offering an array of medical, dental and mental health services. Ten members from other Alaska Air National Guard units are also here providing support, including public affairs, civil engineering and food services. Also at the clinic are thirty-five military personnel drawn from other units around the country.

It its first three days of operation, the clinic saw heavy traffic. Over that time frame the optometry section had seen 169 patients and fabricated 185 pairs of glasses.

"Everyone has expressed their gratitude for the help we've provided and have been exceedingly friendly, to include the local referral doctors who will do the follow-up exams on the patients," Kichura said.

"I don't have health insurance and I haven't seen an eye doctor since 2009," said area resident DeAnna Martin. "This has been the only way for me to get glasses. It's been great."
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