Floss between shooting; Dental Soldiers brush up on skills

28th Public Affairs Detachment
Story by Sgt. Cody Quinn

Date: 04.20.2016
Posted: 04.21.2016 16:12
News ID: 196149
Joint teamwork

Soldiers with the 673rd Dental Company, 3rd Medical Expeditionary Brigade, and 145th Multifunctional Medical Brigade partnered together for a total force integrated training event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, April 18-29, 2016.
The exercise incorporated dentists and support Soldiers from JBLM, reservists from Garden Grove, California and Navy personnel from the Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, Washington.
“We’re using the experience of members of the active Army, Reserves and Navy to provide dental care for our artillery brothers, “ said Capt. Toli Mikell, battle captain of the exercise with the 145th MFMB.
Military dental personnel spent two weeks at a JBLM sleeping in tents, brushing up on basic soldier skills and performing dental operations on Soldiers with 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, in a field environment.
The exercise’s purpose was to reinforce Soldiers’ ability to deploy and provide dental care and heath services in a variety of environments, said Col. Christensen Hsu, commander of the 673rd Dental Co.
“Our job is to provide operational dental care,” Hsu said. “We also provide dental health services to local nationals and humanitarian efforts.”
The partnered units performed a two-phase operation as part of their training. Phase one included performing dental work in the field, setting up a secure area and refining their deployment procedures. The 145th set up eight mobile clinics at the JBLM correctional facility during phase two.
“It’s been real rewarding,” Mikell said. “We’re part of the same team when we put on the same uniform.”
Six months of planning went into creating the multi-service exercise. Leaders from both services pooled their capabilities and expertise to create an exercise that would challenge multiple parts of the 79 participating Soldiers’ skills.
“In our fiscally constrained environment, we try to leverage our resources to maximize training,” Hsu said. “We’re taking our junior officers and NCOs and putting them in leadership positions. The experience is great for development.”
Providing dental services is one of the many tools the Army deploys to provide humanitarian health services to partner nations and during humanitarian crises, according to Hsu.
Military dental personnel are often deployed in small groups wherever the mission is required, said Mikell. Members of the 145th are ready to be deployed to Guatemala, Kuwait or any other location the Army has a presence, he said.
The exercise concluded on April 29, 2016, after giving Soldiers a much-wanted opportunity to ply their skills.
“As experts, we have a particular skill set,” Hsu said. “We’re serving as health care diplomats. Many join because of altruistic reasons. Because we want to help others.”