Doctors, deployments, and dental; How the medical group affects everyone

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anthony G. Agosti
  • 118th Wing
Odd looking, one of a kind pieces of equipment are often the only things in a room with sterile, white-washed walls. The smell of alcohol swabs permeates the air. The snap of latex gloves is often the only sound to interrupt the bustle of patients and staff carrying thick files down the halls.

For most people, going into settings like these is something they dread, but for the members of the 118th Medical Group, this is home.

All of the Airmen stationed at Berry Field Air National Guard base have been to the offices of the 118th MDG at some point during their time on base.

"We are one of the park bench units here at the 118th MDG," said Senior Airman Christina Reichl, a medical technician with the 118th MDG. "We get to see and meet everyone."

With so many people coming in, the Airmen in the 118th MDG do their best to make the medical setting less intimidating and try to make any patient that comes in feel happy and comfortable.

"I love my job as a dental assistant, I genuinely do," said Senior Airman Mary Hackney, a dental assistant with the 118th MDG. "In just a few minutes I get to make people smile, even if it is just getting them to smile for the panoramic machine because they have to."

Making patients feel comfortable however is only one part of the job of Airmen in the 118th MDG. Providing high quality health services is on the minds of all the Airmen that work there.

"One of the key things that almost everyone in the medical group has is the care for each individual that walks through," said Col. Joseph Benson, commander of the 118th MDG. "We have to give 100%, 100% of the time."

The approach to the way the 118th MDG provides services to the rest of the base has evolved over the years, especially since the mission of the 118th Wing changed.

"With intel, cyber, the remote piloted aircraft units, we are touching people all around the country and the world from our home right here in Nashville, Tenn.," said Benson. "When we cross that gate, we're in a deployed location, doing our deployed business."

This mindset of deploying in a home station has helped members of the 118th MDG focus on the importance of the services they provide.

"Even though we don't have actual physical planes here anymore there is still a number of people on flight status, and they need to maintain their flying physicals," said Lt. Col. Kendall Sawyers, clinic nurse for the 118th MDG. "So that's one of our main functions is to support those flyers, to keep them current so they can keep up with their mission."

Making sure that every Airman on base is fit to fight is a tall order and requires the cooperation of everyone in the medical group.

"It's amazing to see people put on this uniform, and even though they are performing different roles, they all pitch in," said Sawyers. "All these people come together here to make our function seamless, to help accomplish the medical mission."

Working as a team to accomplish a mission can be challenging, but it is vital to make sure that all Airmen are medically fit to accomplish their individual missions.

"I always encourage people to look at and realize that everything they're doing, that specimen you take, that shot you give, that person you take down to see the doctor, make sure they get exactly what they need," said Sawyers.  "That way they're prepared when they leave our doors."

Preparing the other units to complete their missions is the mission of the 118th MDG and ultimately the reason as to why their mission matters to other Airmen.

"We help the other units to maintain medical readiness, so if they are not fit to fight, then we have to help them," said Benson. "Our mission matters because the mission of the wing matters."