Local Airmen go on medical mission to Latvia

  • Published
  • By MSgt. Clancy Pence
  • 127th Public Affairs

     On June 8, twenty-five members of the Michigan Air National Guard, including 13 Airmen from the 127th Wing, left Selfridge Air National Guard Base to embark on a 14-day long support and medical mission in the northern European country of Latvia. 
     Upon arrival to the National Armed Forces Infantry School in the city of Aluksne, the Guardsmen were partnered with students from the NAF language school. By working together, this team provided health assessments for the local population, including fluoride treatments for children and teens, and optical screenings for others in the Aluksne region. 
     The Health Fair Team set up a base for services at the Aluksne primary school.  They also visited the city clinic and the regional senior center.
     "Our ability to help the elderly that we saw in the senior retirement homes and the young children in orphanages was an awesome experience. Those looks of gratitude and appreciation for what we were doing made this mission worthwhile," stated SSgt. Brian Faulkner, Aerospace Medical Technician with the 127th Medical Group.
     While at the senior center, about thirty-four individuals were examined; thirty were prescribed eyeglasses, and several were advised to seek care from their primary physician. Exams entailed screening for family health issues and high blood pressure, and an optometry exam.
     The combined health team arrived at the primary school on the June 11, and there were citizens waiting their arrival. In addition to the previous screenings, there was also a dentist to provide fluoride treatments to the young patients. That day over one hundred Latvians were examined.
     Lt. Col. Peter Hollerbach, 127th Medical Group deputy commander,  said, "Our 'Team Blue' served as goodwill ambassadors while conducting the first ever medical operations in underserved towns and regions of Latvia. Our reception by the local population was warm and gracious. The support that we received from the Latvian military and the Zemessardzes [Home Guardsmen] was outstanding." 
     The American medical team would not have been effective without the help of the language students from the TRADOC Language school and soldiers from Latvian NAF Zemessardze. The Latvian Zemessardze and the Michigan Air National Guard have a history of cooperation that stretches back fourteen years. This is only the second time in history that the Michigan ANG has had the honor and privilege of working in conjunction with the Latvian Zemessardze (Home Guard) in Latvia.
     Col. Hollerbach summed up the trip by stating, "By far, the most important lasting impression that we came away with were the smiles on the faces of the Latvian people we served."