Military optical team provides East Central Georgia’s residents free eyecare

624th Regional Support Group Public Affairs Office
Story by Master Sgt. Theanne Herrmann

Date: 07.16.2018
Posted: 07.16.2018 20:32
News ID: 284507
Military optical team provides East Central Georgia’s residents free eyecare

THOMSON, Ga., - Military professionals specializing in optical care are providing free examinations to help the people living in Thomson, Georgia, to see more clearly.

The optical team, composed of an Air Force Reserve Optometrist and three Reserve technicians, one Navy and two Air Force, are participating in the joint-service medical mission called the East Central Georgia Innovative Readiness Training, July 11-18.

An IRT provides hands-on, real-world training to improve readiness and interoperability for service members in complex contingency environments while providing key services for American communities.

“This is an opportunity for us to give back to our neighbors and friends in the community,” said Lt. Col. Gregg Russell, of Marietta, Georgia, optometrist for the 919th Special Operations Medical Squadron, Duke Field, Florida.

The community benefits from the services provided while medical professionals from all branches of the military are given an opportunity to work with each other.

“It’s reaffirming to know that we can form a productive team immediately with individuals from the Navy, Army or Air Force,” said Russell. “That’s what this is all about; being able to work with members you have never worked with before and achieving team cohesion as if you have
known each other for years.”

Another aspect of the IRT is the benefit of the Guard and Reserve members who bring procedures or techniques from their civilian careers.

“We are able to mesh civilian and military ideas together and get the best technique that will better serve our patients,” said Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer Second Class Adam Nelson, of Grafton, Ohio, a general medic from the Navy Reserve Expeditionary Medical Facility.

Staff Sgt. Jordan Rogers, of Mesa, Arizona, works full time with doctors who perform eye surgeries as an ophthalmology surgery scrub for the Advanced Laser and Eye Center in Gilbert, Arizona.

“At my full-time job we deal with a lot of surgical interventions, cataracts and that gives me a wealth of knowledge to draw from when working with the doctor here,” said Rogers an optometry technician for the Air Force Reserve’s 943rd Aerospace Medical Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

The optical team here not only prescribes glasses they are also educating their patients on a variety of eye care topics.

“Each exam is different,” said Rogers. “There is always something that we can discuss with each
patient about eyesight. We’ve already seen a number of folks who have received their glasses and they are happy about how much better they are seeing.”

During this IRT the team is seeing an average of 70 patients a day.

“There’s a benefit to having team members with preexisting skills,” said Russell. “You don’t have to train on the basics, you simply enhance the basics. My techs are superb at pointing out things they’ve noticed about patients and allow me to zero in on issues of concern faster.”

Having a team that is efficient and effective is what it’s all about when seeing hundreds of patients throughout the week, added Russell.

“As a private practitioner I’m able to treat one patient at time…in the military we are treating populations,” said Russell. “When I’m given opportunities to use my professional skills to make a difference in a community it satisfies my soul.”

The IRT mission has five locations in East Central Georgia where military medical providers and staff are providing medical, dental and vision treatments July 11-18 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the McDuffie Achievement Center in Thomson, Warren County High School in Warrenton, Jenkins County Elementary School in Millen, Taliaferro County School in Crawfordville and the Pope Conference Center in Washington, Ga. The services are provided at no cost to the patients and residents of nearby counties are welcome.