193rd Medical Airmen aid Tennessee communities, bolster readiness Published Aug. 9, 2023 By Tech. Sgt. Tony Harp 193rd Special Operations Wing MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- In a display of dedication to public service, the 193rd Special Operations Medical Group recently participated in an initiative known as the Innovative Readiness Training - Project Healthy Tennesseans June 1-15, in Pikeville and Evansville, Tennessee. Under this program, 18 Airmen from the 193rd SOMDG joined forces with medical personnel from other service branches to provide invaluable healthcare assistance to a Tennessee community, significantly improving the overall well-being of its residents. Throughout the duration of the IRT, the 193rd SOMDG Airmen worked toward enhancing the health infrastructure of the Tennessee community and participated in various training events, said Master Sgt. Joel Allen, 193rd SOMDG aerospace medical technician functional manager. Allen said the participants included medics, a medical provider, an optometrist, a dental technician, administration and instructors. They offered an array of medical services, including general check-ups, dental care, vision screenings, vaccinations, patient triage and preventive health education. This comprehensive approach sought to address the diverse healthcare needs of the community, promoting both physical and mental well-being. “One of the main pillars of the IRT program is training,” said Allen. “This IRT had a heavy emphasis on training. Both as students and instructors, all service members accomplished all training required as well as ancillary training provided by other services of the military. I have never been on a mission with the abundance of training both real world and classroom that were made available through this program. IRT missions produce mission ready forces, civilian-military partnerships and stronger communities.” One of the significant advantages of the IRT program lies in its ability to create an environment that fosters collaboration and the exchange of knowledge. As part of their mission, the 193rd SOMDG partnered with other service branches and local healthcare professionals, sharing their expertise and best practices. Allen said the benefit for service members was the increase in readiness and efficiency, while the benefits for the community were the care provided and the cost savings. This collaborative effort ensured a sustainable impact on the community’s health, empowering local providers to continue delivering exceptional care even after the completion of the IRT. “The IRT program is a great avenue to build new leaders, said Allen. “One of the main tenets of the program is to give new officers and NCOs leadership opportunities. From being the unit representative and attending all the planning meetings, I got a firsthand look at how the mission is truly a collaborative and innovative effort. It takes great communication and a myriad of resources with a heavy reliance on the local community for a successful mission. This was not my first IRT experience, but it was my first in a planning and leadership position. It was a great experience getting to meet with all the community partners, establish lasting relationships and to see the positive impact on not only the community but seeing the joy of the service members giving back to the country on a local personal level.” “We are honored to have our Airmen be a part of this transformative mission,” said Col. Edward Fink, 193rd Special Operations Wing commander. “Our medical professionals have shown unwavering dedication and compassion, making a tangible difference in the lives of the Tennessee community members. It is a testament to the core values they uphold as a group and as defenders of public health. This exercise exemplifies the harmonious collaboration between military expertise and supporting civilian needs.” The Tennessee community warmly embraced the 193rd SOMDG and other service members, recognizing the profound impact of their efforts. “I was taken aback by the hospitality and the wiliness for all the community partners and local law enforcement to provide us with anything and everything we needed,” said Allen. “The local community would bring our sites food and water daily without request. At Bledsoe, there was a table full of snacks and toiletries provided by the community. At the end of mission, the local community threw a military appreciation concert with food and drinks for all service members. The acceptance and appreciation displayed by the local community stood out to me.” The IRT initiative, with the active participation of the 193rd SOMDG and other services, served as a shining example of the powerful outcomes that can be achieved when military personnel and civilian communities unite for a common cause.