ROSEBUD, S.D. –
Readiness continues to be a top priority for leaders across the U.S. Army, as well as within Army Reserve Medical Command. In fact, in order to be the Army Reserve’s premier medical command, providing vital medical capabilities essential to the total force, leaders have to ensure their Soldiers are getting relevant training in realistic environments to ensure they’re ready when the Nation calls.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Cihla, a licensed practical nurse assigned to the 7455th Medical Backfill Bn., explains why working at the Rosebud Comprehensive Health Care Facility has been beneficial for him.
“For my civilian work, I’m an endocrinology nurse, so I focus on a specific area. Here we see a variety of patients who need anything from immunizations, to sutures, to splints. This is a good learning opportunity, that’s helping to expand my skillset,” said Cihla.
Approximately 25 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to Army Reserve Medical Command’s Central Medical Area Readiness Support Group, are working in partnership with Rosebud Indian Health Service to provide medical care to the local tribal population. The Indian Health Service provides preventive, curative, and community health care for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in hospitals, clinics, and other settings throughout the United States.
Interaction with the community at remote sites like Rosebud has offered new experiences for the team.
Sgt. Jennifer Kunsch, a dental assistant assigned to the 7406th Troop Medical Clinic out of Colombia, Missouri shared her excitement about the experiences. “Yesterday we went out to a small community with a Head Start program that had children that ranged from one month to five years old. Parents brought their kids in and the kids got a full physical, they got their teeth checked, and we put fluoride paste on their teeth to prevent future damage,” said Kunsch.
Beyond feeling good about her work within the community, Kunsch explained that the work she’s doing is necessary. “For someone like me that only does medical billing while sitting at a desk every day, I don’t get a lot of hands on experience. Training like this is perfect for me, because if I were to get called up for a mission, then I have more knowledge and I’ll be better prepared for the mission. Whenever I’m needed, I’ll be ready.”
Services provided by Army Reserve personnel are approved through the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training program, a civil-military program that builds mutually beneficial partnerships between U.S. communities and the DoD. The missions selected meet training & readiness requirements for Army Reserve Soldiers while integrating them as a joint and whole-of-society team to serve our American citizens.
Sgt. Kevin Stevenson, a radiologist assigned to the 7228th Medical Support Unit in Columbia, Missouri, is enjoying his first experience working on a reservation and with the medical staff at Rosebud.
“The medical field is always changing, especially the technology, so not doing this kind of work on the civilian side puts me a little behind the curve. Coming here helps refresh my skills which is a huge plus.
“I’ve been working directly with the staff here, and I’m learning something new every day. So far, my favorite thing has been working with the local population and getting to work with the staff. I’ve been expanding my skills and its been rewarding,” said Stevenson.
During the two-week period, the small medical team worked with nearly 800 patients between medical and dental appointment, and provided over 500 diagnostic procedures to include x-rays and lab work.
“It’s heartwarming to be able to help those that need our help. Whenever you’re doing mock training, it isn’t meaningful. When you do missions like this, you get to help people who need your help. I was super excited when I heard we would be providing care on a reservation for annual training because we did that last year and I loved it,” said Kunsch.