Wing members help open free medical clinic in Alabama

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson and Capt. John Callahan
  • 176th Wing
On May 3, 2011, about 70 members from a variety of military services -- most of them members of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Medical Group -- joined forces to open up a free medical/dental/vision clinic in the tiny town of Hayneville, Ala.

The military mission was launched under the auspices of the Innovative Readiness Team, a Department of Defense initiative to provide readiness training to a broad range of National Guard and Reserve medical military personnel. Readiness training ensures that medical skills are updated and sharp in the event the members are called on to support American efforts overseas, or respond to natural disasters at home. Through the IRT, Guard and Reserve members can get this training while at the same time providing medical asisstance to those who normally have limited access to care.

Hayneville, Ala., approximately 20 miles southwest of Montgomery, was chosen for the mission because the largely rural area has historically been underserved by health care providers. The clinic was housed in the small town hall.

The Guard and Reserve medical specialists will provide residents with a variety of medical, dental, optometric and pharmaceutical services through May 10. They are accompanied by a variety of support specialists who will also pitch in around the town. Four members of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Civil Engineer Squadron, for example, deployed to provide the infrastructure the medical specialists will need to operate the clinic. While here, they will also help rebuild the roof of the town's clinic, and help area crews address a long-standing municipal sewage problem.