FORT BELKNAP AGENCY, Mont. - More than 100 service members, including Montana, New Mexico and Arizona National Guard personnel, conducted medical operations to support the 2023 Walking Shield Innovative Readiness Training at the Fort Belknap Reservation in August.
The U.S. Army Reserves, U.S. Public Health Service and the U.S. Air Force also participated in the IRT, which provides free medical, dental, pharmacy and emergency medical services to the community while offering real-world experience to military members.
Walking Shield personnel set up in three locations on the reservation: the Fort Belknap Agency, Hays and Lodge Pole, augmenting Indian Health Services staff.
“This year we also have a veterinarian service clinic that’s been well received and performing veterinary services in the Fort Belknap community,” said Smith. “We also have a health fair … providing health education services within the community and around the reservation in different locations.”
Veterinary services were administered to 351 animals and 175 people visited the health fair.
Walking Shield has become a staple event on the reservation, said Capt. Greg Smith, a public health service officer with the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.
Spc. Brian Williamson, a Montana National Guard medic from Browning, Montana, and other Guardsmen respond to actual emergencies while working with tribal EMS.
Williamson and other service members supporting Fort Belknap EMS helped respond to incidents such as car accidents during their two weeks on site.
“I just like helping people and in that kind of hands-on regard. So, helping other Montanans and Natives is just a little bit more of a cherry on top,” Williamson said. “It’s rewarding to help somebody that’s just down the road from me.”