Kentucky Air Guard teams with other services to offer no-cost health care in Western Kentucky

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dale Greer
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Kentucky Air National Guard is teaming with other branches of the U.S. military and the Delta Regional Authority to offer health care at no cost to citizens in Western Kentucky starting today.

Medical screenings, dental exams and extractions, optical exams, non-emergency medical treatment, and single-prescription eyeglasses will be offered at Carlisle County High School in Bardwell, Graves County High School in Mayfield and Paducah Tilghman High School in Paducah, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Amy Mundell, a medical administrative officer in the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Medical Group.

All three clinical sites will be open July 18 through 27.

The initiative, called Bluegrass Medical Innovative Readiness Training, gives military health professionals an opportunity to provide medical, dental and optical care in a deployed environment, much as they would when responding to a natural disaster or military operation, while offering services to citizens who are uninsured or underinsured, Mundell said.

"This program allows our medical troops to conduct critical training and logistical movements that simulate a military medical response in the time of crisis, conflict or disaster," explained Mundell, who is the project's officer-in-charge.

"At the same time, our servicemembers will provide direct and lasting benefits to the residents of Western Kentucky by delivering expert medical and dental services to residents in need of quality care. We're extremely pleased to be participating in this outstanding program."

The Bluegrass Medical Innovative Readiness Training event is a joint-service mission comprised of about 215 Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers from the National Guard, Reserves and active duty. The Kentucky Air National Guard, which has provided 51 Airmen to support the mission, is serving as the lead unit.

The program is co-sponsored by the Delta Regional Authority, a federal-state partnership chartered by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states, including the 20 westernmost counties of Kentucky. The DRA is working closely with communities and local leadership to host the participating troops and provide logistical and programmatic support.

"Our partnership with the U.S. Military is one of the most impactful programs that the DRA has been able to bring to Delta communities," said Chris Masingill, federal co-chairman of the DRA. "The IRT medical missions are a win-win: They train our men and women in uniform to be skilled professionals and ready to protect our country and citizens at a moment's notice; the missions also provide crucial services to Americans in communities that are in the most need and highly underserved. We are proud to bring this program back to Kentucky."

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Ryan Starkey, officer in charge of Detachment X at Expeditionary Medical Facility Great Lakes, in Great Lakes, Illinois, agreed about the value of the program, both to the resident of Western Kentucky and the military members who are providing services.

"Being able to participate in this exercise provides an opportunity for our Sailors to achieve maximum benefit," explained Starkey, who is the IRT's assistant officer in charge. "We can use our skills in the areas of health care, food services and logistics in the much needed joint-service environment, all while helping meet the needs of the communities of Western Kentucky.

"The Innovative Readiness Training program is one that combines an activity that directly benefits U.S. citizens with one that increases the readiness of our Armed Forces. As Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers, we can't ask for more than that type of opportunity."

The Navy is providing 62 Sailors to support the event, Starkey said. Most are Reservists from the Great Lakes area, but the forces also include Reservists and active-duty Sailors from all over the United States.

The clinics will be open July 18 to 23 and 25 to 26 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., July 24 from noon to 4:30, and July 27 from 8 a.m. to noon. Patients will be accepted on a first-come, first-served walk-in basis.