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South Carolina Air National Guard supports Operation Healthy Delta

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

Airmen from the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing participated in Operation Healthy Delta, an Innovative Readiness Training mission, June 9-23, 2023.

Operation Healthy Delta is a Department of Defense sponsored program designed to leverage the strength of joint forces and establish relationships with those of the local community.

At three different sites between Missouri and Illinois, the IRT offered no-cost healthcare, dental care, physical therapy, prescriptions, behavioral health, and even 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 were spread out across three locations, served more than 2,000 patients and performed more than 17,000 procedures, valued at more than $1.6 million across a two-week span.

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 those in underserved communities.

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

SCANG Airmen appreciated the exposure to new skills and the opportunity to grow their leadership.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Julia Coleman, a dental administrator assigned to the 169th Medical Group, served as 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.

She exclaimed the diversity in skill sets cultivated a productive environment to train others and be trained herself, all at the same time.  

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

“[As military public health], 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 serving as the first sergeant to a Missouri IRT site, understands the impact of being a preventative problem solver.

“I’m usually very job oriented,” said Davila. “However, being in a position where my [primary] job is to care for people’s wellbeing, it has grown my perspective on leadership.”

Observing the interactions between community members and armed service personnel, she witnessed the magnitude of creating impact in a functional way.

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

All members expressed gratitude for the opportunity to learn and grow as multi-capable Airmen.