Minnesota Air National Guard Airmen provide no cost medical care to residents in Puerto Rico

May 4, 2019 (LARES, Puerto Rico) — Minnesota National Guard Airmen are providing no-cost medical care to civilians in Puerto Rico this week as part of the U. S. Military Innovative Readiness Training program.

Airmen from the 133rd Medical Guard are providing medical care during a two-week medical exercise conducted jointly with several other National Guard and Reserve units from around the nation.

The goal of the training program is to provide realistic training while at the same time provide no-cost medical care for people in remote areas who are medically underserved.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Micheel, a medical provider with the 133rd Medical Group, helps U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Jose LozanoAlvarez, an optometrist technician with the Expeditionary Medical Facility, Camp Pendleton, to learn how to make suture in Lares, Puerto Rico, May 2, 2019. Micheel and LozanoAlvarez are at one of the six Innovative Readiness Training sites which aim to provide hands-on, mission-essential training while simultaneously providing health care to communities in the U.S. and its territories. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

During the training period, clinicians have set up areas to perform medical examinations, as well as dental and optometry care, in community centers in six different locations on the island territory.

The Innovative Readiness Training was originally created in 1992 as a way to provide realistic training in a joint environment in order to prepare U.S. military members to perform similar duties during a crisis at home or abroad.

During their time in Puerto Rico, the medical teams are provided with hands-on, mission-essential training while simultaneously providing health care to communities in select locations around the island.

Events that are a part of the readiness training program like the one in Puerto Rico also aim to provide a critical link between the military and members of the civilian community where the events are held.

Story and photos by Tech Sgt. Amy Lovgren, 133rd Airlift Wing