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NEWS | June 22, 2023

South Carolina Air Guard Supports Operation Healthy Delta

By Airman 1st Class Danielle Dawson, 169th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SIKESTON, Mo. – Airmen from the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing participated in Operation Healthy Delta, providing free medical, dental and vision care to several thousand people in Missouri and Illinois June 9-23.

Operation Healthy Delta is an Innovative Readiness Training program sponsored by the Department of Defense to leverage the strength of joint forces and establish relationships in local communities.

At three sites in Missouri and Illinois, the IRT offered no-cost health care, dental care, physical therapy, prescriptions, behavioral health, and optometry services that provided next-day glasses.

More than 270 service members from the Air Force, Space Force, Army and Air National Guard, Army and Air Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and the U.S. Public Health Service participated in Operation Healthy Delta. The service members served more than 2,000 patients and performed more than 17,000 procedures valued at more than $1.6 million.

Food service specialists assigned to the 132nd Wing, Iowa National Guard, and 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri National Guard, prepared more than 11,000 hot meals to keep the providers fed and nourished.

The IRT program enabled service members to connect and empower people in underserved communities.

Along with building relationships, military personnel exercised skill sets and gained experiences uncommon to their traditional unit duties.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Julia Coleman, a dental administrator assigned to the 169th Medical Group, was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the dental clinic at one of the Missouri IRT sites.

“When working in a joint environment, there are several operations and techniques other branches do that we may not get to do,” said Coleman.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Klingshirn, a public health officer with the 169th Medical Group, agreed.

“We don’t always get to see the farm-to-table process when things enter our military installations,” said Klingshirn. “This mission has offered us the opportunity to see public health from a wider scope.”

He hopes his team of Airmen see the significance in mitigating potential crises that could impact the biological and structural safety of the SCANG.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Terra Davila, a noncommissioned officer in charge of the command support staff assigned to the 169th Operations Group and the first sergeant at a Missouri IRT site, said the experience had grown her perspective on leadership.

“Leadership is not just about the job but also taking care of your people,” said Davila.



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