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NC Air National Guard Play Vital Role Providing Real-World Care during Cajun Care 2014

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Phillip Harrell and Staff Sgt. Jesse Huneycutt, 145th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Air Transportation Specialists, use a K-Loader and 10k All Terrain forklift to load pallets containing dental and medical supplies onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. airport, February 20, 2014. The 145th Airlift Wing prepares a flight bound for Louisiana in support of Cajun Care 2014, a Department of Defense, Innovative Readiness Training mission designed to provide U.S. military medical professionals invaluable training as well as provide health care options to a medically underserved community. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Phillip Harrell and Staff Sgt. Jesse Huneycutt, 145th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Air Transportation Specialists, use a K-Loader and 10k All Terrain forklift to load pallets containing dental and medical supplies onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. airport, February 20, 2014. The 145th Airlift Wing prepares a flight bound for Louisiana in support of Cajun Care 2014, a Department of Defense, Innovative Readiness Training mission designed to provide U.S. military medical professionals invaluable training as well as provide health care options to a medically underserved community. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Pennie Brawley and Senior Airman Phillip Mallette, loadmasters from the 156th Airlift Squadron, secure pallets containing medical and dental supplies onboard a 145th Airlift Wing, C-130 Hercules aircraft at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. airport, February 20, 2014. NCANG airmen prepare to fly to Louisiana in support of Cajun Care 2014, a Department of Defense, Innovative Readiness Training mission designed to provide U.S. military medical professionals invaluable training as well as provide health care options to a medically underserved community. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Pennie Brawley and Senior Airman Phillip Mallette, loadmasters from the 156th Airlift Squadron, secure pallets containing medical and dental supplies onboard a 145th Airlift Wing, C-130 Hercules aircraft at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. airport, February 20, 2014. NCANG airmen prepare to fly to Louisiana in support of Cajun Care 2014, a Department of Defense, Innovative Readiness Training mission designed to provide U.S. military medical professionals invaluable training as well as provide health care options to a medically underserved community. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Franklin “Brad” Meyers, Flight Surgeon assigned to the 115th Medical Group, Wisconsin Air National Guard, informs patients about nutrition and basic health care during Cajun Care 2014, an Innovative Readiness Training mission held in Abbeville, LA. February 28, 2014. Meyers, along with 120 medical professionals from the Air National Guard and Navy Reserves worked as a team getting invaluable training as well as providing health care to over 3,000 patients. Cajun Care 2014 is one of the largest IRT Department of Defense Programs providing free medical, dental and optical services to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Franklin “Brad” Meyers, Flight Surgeon assigned to the 115th Medical Group, Wisconsin Air National Guard, informs patients about nutrition and basic health care during Cajun Care 2014, an Innovative Readiness Training mission held in Abbeville, LA. February 28, 2014. Meyers, along with 120 medical professionals from the Air National Guard and Navy Reserves worked as a team getting invaluable training as well as providing health care to over 3,000 patients. Cajun Care 2014 is one of the largest IRT Department of Defense Programs providing free medical, dental and optical services to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Amburn, 145th Base Contracting Officer and 1st Lt. Rebecca Roodhouse-Hintz, prepare a daily situation report while participating in an Innovative Readiness Training mission, February 28, 2014.  Over 3,000 residents in Abbeville, LA were seen during the 10-day IRT mission, Cajun Care 2014. IRT is a Department of Defense Program designed to provide U.S. military professionals’ invaluable training as well as provide support to underserved communities. Roodhouse-Hintz and Amburn have a direct impact on the IRT program. Roodhouse-Hintz is the IRT Air National Guard Program Manager and Amburn is the IRT Contracting Officer managing the logistics portion for the entire program including medical and Civil Engineering projects. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Amburn, 145th Base Contracting Officer and 1st Lt. Rebecca Roodhouse-Hintz, prepare a daily situation report while participating in an Innovative Readiness Training mission, February 28, 2014. Over 3,000 residents in Abbeville, LA were seen during the 10-day IRT mission, Cajun Care 2014. IRT is a Department of Defense Program designed to provide U.S. military professionals’ invaluable training as well as provide support to underserved communities. Roodhouse-Hintz and Amburn have a direct impact on the IRT program. Roodhouse-Hintz is the IRT Air National Guard Program Manager and Amburn is the IRT Contracting Officer managing the logistics portion for the entire program including medical and Civil Engineering projects. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

Navy and Air National Guard medical personnel check vital signs on a patient during Cajun Care 2014, an Innovative Readiness Training mission held in Abbeville, La. U.S. Military medical professionals worked as a team getting invaluable training as well as providing health care to over 3,000 patients. Cajun Care 2014 is one of the largest IRT Department of Defense Programs providing free medical, dental and optical services to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

Navy and Air National Guard medical personnel check vital signs on a patient during Cajun Care 2014, an Innovative Readiness Training mission held in Abbeville, La. U.S. Military medical professionals worked as a team getting invaluable training as well as providing health care to over 3,000 patients. Cajun Care 2014 is one of the largest IRT Department of Defense Programs providing free medical, dental and optical services to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Smith, dental surgeon assigned to the 145th Medical Group, North Carolina Air National Guard, surgically removes 12 non-restorable teeth from a patient while 2nd Class Petty Officer Stephanie Aquirre, from Naval Operational Support Center, Tuscan, AZ assists during a training mission, February 28, 2014.  Smith and Aquirre, along with other Air National Guard and Navy Reservists participated in Cajun Care 2014, an Innovative Readiness Training mission held in Abbeville, LA. Smith extracted 177 teeth during the first three the 10 day mission. IRT is a Department of Defense Program designed to provide U.S. military professionals’ invaluable training as well as provide support to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Smith, dental surgeon assigned to the 145th Medical Group, North Carolina Air National Guard, surgically removes 12 non-restorable teeth from a patient while 2nd Class Petty Officer Stephanie Aquirre, from Naval Operational Support Center, Tuscan, AZ assists during a training mission, February 28, 2014. Smith and Aquirre, along with other Air National Guard and Navy Reservists participated in Cajun Care 2014, an Innovative Readiness Training mission held in Abbeville, LA. Smith extracted 177 teeth during the first three the 10 day mission. IRT is a Department of Defense Program designed to provide U.S. military professionals’ invaluable training as well as provide support to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgts. Jonathon Jones and Paul Talbot, Logistics Material Specialists from 145th Medical Group, and U.S. Navy Reservist, 2nd Class Petty Officer Joseph De Leonardo, a corpsman from Morrisville, PA, take end-of-day inventory of medical and dental supplies while participating in Cajun Care 2014, an Innovative Readiness Training mission. Jones and Talbot are part of a team that created the inventory list of medical and dental supplies necessary for others to follow to make future IRT missions successful. Cajun Care is part of a Department of Defense Program where Air National Guard and Navy Reserves worked as a team getting invaluable training as well as providing free medical, dental and optical services to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgts. Jonathon Jones and Paul Talbot, Logistics Material Specialists from 145th Medical Group, and U.S. Navy Reservist, 2nd Class Petty Officer Joseph De Leonardo, a corpsman from Morrisville, PA, take end-of-day inventory of medical and dental supplies while participating in Cajun Care 2014, an Innovative Readiness Training mission. Jones and Talbot are part of a team that created the inventory list of medical and dental supplies necessary for others to follow to make future IRT missions successful. Cajun Care is part of a Department of Defense Program where Air National Guard and Navy Reserves worked as a team getting invaluable training as well as providing free medical, dental and optical services to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Amburn, 145th Base Contracting Officer, looks over Innovative Readiness Training financial reports with Commander, Lt. Col. Gregory Goforth, Capt. Jeanie Helms and Tech. Sgt. Joel Greene, 145th Comptroller Flight at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. airport, March 10, 2014. IRT is a Department of Defense program that provides U.S. military professionals’ invaluable training as well as provides support to underserved communities. In the past year, 145th CF, working with SMSgt Amburn has managed over $2.6 Million DoD funds for ANG, Air Force Reserve, Marines, Navy, and ARMY IRT missions. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Amburn, 145th Base Contracting Officer, looks over Innovative Readiness Training financial reports with Commander, Lt. Col. Gregory Goforth, Capt. Jeanie Helms and Tech. Sgt. Joel Greene, 145th Comptroller Flight at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. airport, March 10, 2014. IRT is a Department of Defense program that provides U.S. military professionals’ invaluable training as well as provides support to underserved communities. In the past year, 145th CF, working with SMSgt Amburn has managed over $2.6 Million DoD funds for ANG, Air Force Reserve, Marines, Navy, and ARMY IRT missions. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

Members of the North Carolina Air National Guard plan for future Innovative Readiness Training missions at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. airport, March 6, 2014. Base Contracting Officer, Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Amburn, Maj Brandon Elliott, Supervisory Contracting Specialist, Master Sgt. Bryant Alexander and Tony Cherry, Procurement Technician, write and execute supply and service contracts for all services; ANG, Air Force Reserve, Marines, Navy, and ARMY Guard. 1st Lt. Rebecca Roodhouse-Hintz, 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, is the IRT Program Manager and Capt. Michael Cain, 145th Civil Engineer Squadron is the Project Manager for all ANG led IRT Engineering Missions. Other team members include Mark Costly and Chief Master Sgt. Penny Dyches, IRT Resource Advisors, and Tech. Sgt. Lafayette Horton and Staff Sgt. Joshua Farrar, 145th Small Air Terminal, who coordinate the transportation of IRT supplies via 145th Airlift Wing, C-130 aircraft. IRT is a Department of Defense Program providing U.S. military professionals’ invaluable training as well as provide support to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

Members of the North Carolina Air National Guard plan for future Innovative Readiness Training missions at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. airport, March 6, 2014. Base Contracting Officer, Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Amburn, Maj Brandon Elliott, Supervisory Contracting Specialist, Master Sgt. Bryant Alexander and Tony Cherry, Procurement Technician, write and execute supply and service contracts for all services; ANG, Air Force Reserve, Marines, Navy, and ARMY Guard. 1st Lt. Rebecca Roodhouse-Hintz, 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, is the IRT Program Manager and Capt. Michael Cain, 145th Civil Engineer Squadron is the Project Manager for all ANG led IRT Engineering Missions. Other team members include Mark Costly and Chief Master Sgt. Penny Dyches, IRT Resource Advisors, and Tech. Sgt. Lafayette Horton and Staff Sgt. Joshua Farrar, 145th Small Air Terminal, who coordinate the transportation of IRT supplies via 145th Airlift Wing, C-130 aircraft. IRT is a Department of Defense Program providing U.S. military professionals’ invaluable training as well as provide support to underserved communities. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

ABBEVILLE, LA -- More than 120 Air National Guard and Navy Reservists gathered in Louisiana to participate in a training mission that provided medical, dental and optometry care to over 3,000 residents in and around Abbeville, La.

For 10 straight days, Air National Guard and Navy Reserve personnel from more than a dozen different units across the United States participated in Cajun Care 2014, a Department of Defense-sponsored Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. IRT is designed to provide U.S. military professionals valuable training as well as provide support to underserved communities.

Airmen from the North Carolina Air National Guard play a vital role in the coordination, planning and execution of the IRT program. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Jamie Ruffing, Cajun Care mission commander, spoke highly of the NCANG team. "The sheer magnitude of getting an operation such as this off the ground is staggering," she said, "But our supply and logistics team has answered every call, and enabled the providers to serve this community."

Senior Master Sgt. Chris Amburn is the 145th Airlift Wing's Base Contracting Officer.
Amburn was approached three years ago by Lt. Col. Hall, the IRT Program Manager at that time, who asked SMSgt Amburn to manage contracts for the entire program.

Amburn, in conjunction with Master Sgt. Bryant Alexander, Contract Specialist and Tony Cherry, Procurement Technician, 145th Contracting office, writes and executes supply and service contracts for all services; ANG, Air Force Reserve, Marines, Navy, and ARMY Guard. Amburn manages the logistics portion as well for the entire program including medical and civil engineering projects. In the last year alone, he has managed 2.6 Million dollars in contracts and purchases for the IRT program, $89,000 for Cajun Care, all as a side duty.

Over the course of three years, Amburn has grown the program from one to many. It has encompassed and touched all areas of the NCANG including Aerial Port, Finance, Maintenance, Civil Engineers, Flight Operations, Medical and Public Affairs. By incorporating many units base wide, NCANG has not only impacted and inspired the lives of those here locally at the 145th AW but also impacted the lives of many nationwide who have received support through the IRT mission.

"Working with Airman, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers in a very joint environment is perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences I have had the privilege to be part of," Amburn said. He went on to say "It is very gratifying to be part of a one team-one fight mission that provides training for our troops while helping those who are underserved as well."

While the contracting office at the NCANG heads up logistics, Capt. Michael Cain, 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, is the Air National Guard IRT Project Manager for all ANG Lead IRT Engineering Missions. As project manager, it is Cain's responsibility to help ensure that all participating units are meeting their training objectives, and as a product, providing the IRT applicant with quality Military Engineer Workmanship.

1st Lt. Rebecca Roodhouse-Hintz, 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, is now serving as IRT ANG Program Manager and works directly for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. Roodhouse-Hintz is proactive, combat-ready, and has proven to be adaptable. She has taken the lead to get the ANG actively involved with a variety of IRT missions, providing a dual benefit for community and Airmen training. Cain and Hintz work alongside of SMSgt Amburn all having a direct impact on the program and report to OASD on various levels.

Once logistics for Cajun Care were completed, the training continued as the 145th AW got equipment and supplies ready to deploy. On February 20, 2014, 145th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Air Transportation Specialist, Tech. Sgt. Phillip Harrell and Staff Sgt. Jesse Huneycutt, use a K-Loader and 10k All Terrain forklift to load five aircraft pallets full of dental equipment and medical supplies onboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft bound for Louisiana. Master Sgt. Pennie Brawley, a loadmaster assigned to the 156th Airlift Squadron, helped position and secure the pallets as they were placed in the cargo area. "All this medical equipment and supplies makes me feel like I'm back in Afghanistan," Brawley said. "Except," she added "This time we are not getting shot at!"

Arriving in Louisiana, medical personnel started scheduling their days to provide multiple services including nursing evaluations, blood pressure screenings and diet and health consultations. Dental services, including assessments and extractions were scheduled as well. Eye exams and spectacle manufacturing were offered and a pharmacy dispensing prescriptions was set and in place for patients that had been assessed by medical teams.

As with all IRT deployments, Cajun Care 2014 was implemented as an opportunity to increase the quality of life for fellow Americans while challenging deployment skills and operational readiness of each military member.

For that reason, Cajun Care team members set up cots in the Louisiana Army National Guard Armory and the Abbeville VFW emulating field conditions to better prepare for deployment to an austere environment. They ate breakfast and dinner in the armory and lunch at the work site. For those who did venture out, they had to have a Wingman and adhere to the enforced curfew of "lights out at 2200".

As commander of Cajun Care, Lt. Col. Ruffing stated that although the primary mission of IRT is ensuring U.S. military medical professionals are able to rapidly establish a functional medical facility, the mission's dividends to a community cannot be understated.

At the end of the first day, 102 optical exams were performed, 78 medical exams were given, dentist performed over 90 dental procedures and more than 60 hours of patient health training was accomplished.

Lt. Col. Michael Smith, dental physician assigned to the 145th Medical Group, kept extremely busy extracting 177 decayed teeth in just the first three days. "Seeing the relief on a patient's face is always rewarding" Smith said then added, "You're doing great buddy!" encouraging a patient who was having 12 teeth extracted.

Members of the Cajun Care team worked in a joint environment serving with sister services learning another service's culture. "Despite the fact that we all wear different uniforms," Smith stated, "We speak the same language when it comes to practicing medicine. We all took the same oath to serve our community as medical professionals and to serve our country as military servicemen and women."

IRT is an amazing program. It is Americans helping Americans. The focus is not international, but domestic. It's symbiotic in nature, everyone wins. The troops train to improve their skillset while helping those in need. We return with sharp minds, improved skill sets, and most importantly full hearts. It's just a matter of spreading the word and involving as many people as possible. Once the troops are involved, they leave forever inspired and most importantly come back for more.... IRT is addictive in nature and we're just getting warmed up.....we've barely scratched the surface.