An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | June 20, 2024

Air Guard Helps Provide Free Medical Care to Virgin Islands

By Master Sgt. Rachelle Morris, Air Force Reserve Innovative Readiness Training

RED HOOK, Virgin Islands - Approximately 240 service members from across the United States provided no-cost health care to more than 2,000 Virgin Islands residents June 1-9.

The event, spanning three islands and multiple locations, was the inaugural Virgin Islands Wellness Innovative Readiness Training.

“We provided mission-essential military training while serving the community of the Virgin Islands by providing no-cost medical care, optometry and dental services,” said Maj. Mu Zhang, VI wellness officer in charge and optometrist. “Logistically, we had to figure out travel arrangements and accommodations, sourcing doctors from all over the country, as well as moving medical equipment and assets to the island. It all took meticulous planning.”

Many community partners contributed to the mission.

“We had to do a lot of collaboration with the Department of Health, Department of Education, as well as the Air National Guard,” Zhang said. “FEMA was also involved as well as civilian organizations such as Remote Area Medical.”

The symbiotic relationship of all parties was essential to the success of the mission.

“We have been planning all year to make sure we can make this mission, on all three islands, a tremendous success,” said Dr. Tai Hunte-Ceasar, Virgin Islands DoH chief medical officer. “We know what it is like to work with the military — it is always a pleasure. This means the world to me that this is something that we can do for everyone regardless of ability to pay or ability to access care.”

National Guardsman Capt. Cosme Harrison, Medical Readiness Detachment, echoed her sentiment.

“The role for the National Guard in this event is to provide support to the IRT wellness fair,” Harrison said. “Knowing these resources have come to benefit my community in such a meaningful way, it is an amazing feeling, and I am grateful to support it. Working along (with) the Air Force has been such a great experience — everyone is so committed to the mission.”

All IRT missions serve communities and provide service members with training they may not receive at their home units.

“Here on this mission, we have 248 members from 44 different units out of 40 groups, representing 33 unique wings,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Canon, 184th Medical Group.

Many of the service members skipped lunches, stayed late and worked through power outages to care for as many residents as possible.

“The feedback I have been getting back from the people receiving services is incredible,” said Hunte-Ceasar. “They are asking, ‘how often can you do this and are you going to come back?’ So, I am super excited that we have already put in the application for next year. This is something we plan and hope we will continue to do and get bigger and bigger every year.”

 

 

Related Articles
Tennessee National Guard Spc. Noah Green, left, and U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Buck with the Kentucky National Guard won the 2024 Region III Best Warrior Competition at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Kentucky, April 19, 2024. Nineteen competitors from 10 states and territories competed for the titles of Soldier and NCO of the Year for Region III.
Kentucky, Tennessee Win Regional Best Warrior Competition
By Milt Spalding, | April 23, 2024
GREENVILLE, Ky. – Soldiers from Kentucky and Tennessee earned top honors in the 2024 Army National Guard Region III Best Warrior Competition April 14-19.Hosted by the Kentucky National Guard, the event put Soldiers from 10...

The Tradewinds 23 closing ceremony was held in Georgetown, Guyana, July 27, 2023. The multinational, two-week exercise included representatives from 21 nations and Army and Air National Guard units from Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma and the Virgin Islands.
Tradewinds 23 Exercise Highlights Multinational Partnerships
By Maj. Jeremy Idleman, | July 31, 2023
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Tradewinds 23, a two-week multinational exercise supporting the security of the Caribbean and Central America, wrapped up with a closing ceremony July 27. Tradewinds 23 involved 21 nations and more than...

Soldiers from 786th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Virgin Islands National Guard, unpack supplies before the start of the Vibrant Response exercise at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, April 24-May 12, 2023.
Virgin Islands Guard Helps Sustain Exercise Vibrant Response
By Bethany Huff, | May 3, 2023
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. – Indiana is a long way from home base for Soldiers stationed with the 786th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Virgin Islands National Guard, and 512th Movement Control Teams, 1 Mission Support...