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NEWS | June 20, 2024

AR-MEDCOM dental team supports Grafenwoehr Army Dental Clinic

By Sgt. 1st Class Neil W. McCabe Army Reserve Medical Command

"Warrior Medics" from the Army Reserve Medical Command's Garden Grove, California, based 7214th Medical Support Unit, mobilized from May 5 to May 25 to support the Grafenwoehr Army Dental Clinic for two weeks.

Sergeant Lynette Sherlock, an Army dental specialist, or 68 Echo, said she was grateful for the opportunity to work overseas with the active-duty Soldiers and show them and the patients that Army Reserve Soldiers are ready to step in and step up.

Sherlock said many of the patients were shocked to learn they were in the Army Reserve when they had to tell them that they would be returning home before the patient's next appointment.

“The patients were floored,” said the native of Manteca, a city in California’s Central Valley.

“They were like, really?” she said. “We had to explain to them, so definitely there was no differentiating between the two of us and active- duty.”

The officer-in-chief of the mission, Lt. Col. Kenny Jang, said that now that he has sold his private dental practice, the rest of his professional life is dedicated to serving those who served.

“I sold saw my practice two years ago,” the colonel said. “It's my dream to serve my fellow Soldiers and Veterans.”

“I volunteered for this mission, the Germany overseas duty training,” the Orange County, California, resident said.

"I thought it would be a great mission for me to go. There were other great candidates, too, but I was a little persistent to get the opportunity to go," he said. "I mean, knowing the fact that you're going overseas and seeing the different country and at the same time, we were able to take care of some of the Soldiers."

The dentist said he had never been to Germany before, but in 2007, he went on a humanitarian mission to the Dominican Republic for two weeks of annual training.

Sherlock said she and the other 68 Echo, Sgt. Norma Marinack set up two rooms to see patients, which allowed Jang to move between them.

“Overall, I think we managed really well as we got used to each other and got used to each other's how we work,” said the former Army civil affairs specialist, or 38 Bravo, who enlisted in December 2008 and graduated from basic training on her 39th birthday.

“We had never worked together before, so we got a little bit of a rough start, but there's always that initial getting used to things with each other,” she said.

"We saw over 65 patients, and in that three-week period, we did root canal, one root canal, one extraction-- just overall getting about 60-plus soldiers out of Class 3," Sherlock said.

"Once we got our flow, they respected us and trusted us," the San Diego resident said. “They weren't looking over our shoulder or getting too involved. They trusted us with what we were doing and were really impressed with how we did things and how quickly we got things accomplished."

Jang said he was delighted with how the ODT went.

“It was a great mission,” he said. “We accomplished a lot.”

The colonel said he also appreciated the opportunity to coach and mentor the two dental techs—and for him to learn new things as well.

"I had to learn because it was a new facility, new equipment, and new instruments," he said.
"Here I am, still training after 23 years," said the San Francisco-based University of the Pacific's dental school graduate.

"There were people at German at the clinic over there; they were able to assist us trying to familiarize the whole dental scene there," said the colonel who joined the Army in 2000 so he could pay off his student loans.

"At the same time, I had to teach my assistants because I had never worked with them before," he said. "It was the first time I worked with them, so in the beginning, it was a little bit slow, and we were just kind of offbeat a little bit."

Jang said after a few days, they were functioning well together.

“It was more of a hands-on experience for them because when we go on drills, I mean month in month out, we don't do actual hands-on trainings at all,”

"We were clicking, we were working as a team, and I was able to teach them how I like the setup to treat the patients because every dentist has their own way of treating patients," he said.

Sherlock, who works as a civilian dental technician at a Navy dental clinic in San Diego, said she enjoyed working with Jang.

"I feel like every doctor is different, and they do different things,” she said.

Marinack, also 68 Echo with the 7214th MSU, said she relied on Sherlock to get settled in for their stint in Germany.

“It was exciting. I was nervous at the beginning,” she said.

“Sherlock walked me through the process of how to sanitize the rooms, how to set them up, what to ask whenever the patient gets in the chair because we had to verify the DOD ID, their full name and last name, and date of birth,” she said.

“She walked me through the process of how it works, and she was with me most of the time,” she said. “It was pretty good to have someone who actually has knowledge of the dental assistant role.”

Sherlock said that although there was not much time off, the two of them managed to get off post and see parts of Germany.

“We crammed as much as we could in the short time that we had from Munich to Berlin to Nuremberg, all the little towns around Bavaria,” she said.

“We got a really good tour of everything, and we had a great time in our downtime as well.”