FORT BUCHANAN, PR –
1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve Virgin Islands and Puerto Rican Soldiers in local United States Army units joined over 500 members of different Department of Defense (DoD) components in a medical Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission that took place throughout the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, April 25 to May 5, 2019.
IRT is a Department of Defense military training opportunity, exclusive to the United States and its territories, that delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness. Simultaneously, IRT provides key services with lasting benefits for our American communities.
"With this type of mission, we all win. By having real hands-on experience, the readiness level of our force improves significantly," said Brig. Gen. Dustin A. Shultz, 1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Commanding General, during a press conference announcing the mission.
The Soldiers performed their mission in six IRT sites located at Ponce, Jayuya, Yauco, Lares, Maricao and Mayaguez.
"Sharing DoD and community resources creates cost efficiencies for both entities. Working together we achieve more," added Shultz.
For many Soldiers, the IRT mission represented a unique opportunity.
"My experience here has been awesome, because I had the opportunity to help my hometown, something that not everyone can do," said 2nd Lt. Emanuel Montañez, Army Reserve nurse, assigned to the 49th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, while performing duty in the Mayaguez IRT site.
Meanwhile other Soldiers seized the mission as an opportunity to refine their skills.
"IRT not only allows us to train in our jobs, but also to cross train, learning other skills and to learn important details about other military services," said Spc. Hernan Hernandez, an Army Reserve Combat Medic Specialist performing duty at the Jayuya's IRT site.
Each IRT site offered dental, optometry and general medical services at no cost to the community.
"I think this is a great initiative, because there are many people who cannot afford to pay for medical services. I will be forever grateful," said Elinet Lopez Rivera a patient from Lares, Puerto Rico.
In Puerto Rico the IRT mission provided medical services to over 9,000 patients, delivered over 2,000 eyeglasses and completed over 10,000 medical procedures.
"This is a very special moment for me because thanks to you I am receiving the eyeglasses that I needed," said Celeste Rodriguez-Torres, from Jayuya.