MADISON, Wis. - Air National Guard medical professionals from the 115th Fighter Wing departed Monday (Feb. 24) to participate in an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission called Cajun Care in Abbeville, La., Feb. 23-March 7.
Their mission is to provide medical, dental, pharmaceutical and ophthalmology services to residents from Abbeville and the surrounding areas during one of the Department of Defense's largest community outreach efforts in the South.
According to Lt. Col. Jamie Ruffing, Cajun Care mission commander, the primary IRT mission is to ensure U.S. military medical professionals are able to rapidly establish a functional medical facility. The benefits their efforts will bring to the local community cannot be understated.
"We fully expect to become part of the community," Ruffing said. "This will be our home for two weeks, and the people of Abbeville and the surrounding communities will be our neighbors."
Once the group arrives in Abbeville, they'll be responsible for setting up medical facilities and providing multiple services to the local community. Medical services will include nursing evaluations, blood glucose monitoring and Hemoglobin A1C testing. Dental services will include assessments, extractions, fillings and cleanings. Eye exams and spectacle manufacturing are scheduled to be offered, and a pharmacy will dispense prescriptions deemed necessary to those assessed by the medical team.
The 115th Medical Group members will not be the only Airmen attending Cajun Care. Members of the 115th Force Support Squadron (FSS), the 115th FW chaplain and public affairs Airmen will also be joining them - nearly 30 Airmen in all.
"The deployment will allow our Airmen to use the skills they've gained through training to improve the quality of life of their fellow Americans," said Col. Jeffrey Wiegand, 115th FW commander. "The experience will test their deployment skills and operational readiness, while allowing them to demonstrate a team mentality working with other Air National Guard members, as well as active and reserve Navy and Army personnel. I'm proud of them and the mission they'll accomplish."
This is a multi-service/interagency training event, so the 115th FW will be joined by 10 additional Air National Guard units, 12 Navy reserve units, and active duty Navy and Army service members, totaling more than 110 military personnel.
The 115th FSS Airmen will provide two meals per day to all the service members in attendance throughout the duration of Cajun Care 2014.
This Air National Guard-led IRT mission is sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense in conjunction with the Delta Regional Authority and civil authorities in and around the Vermilion Parish of Abbeville.
Those interested in providing coverage on this event are encouraged to contact the 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office, at 608.245.4395 or .