An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Aug. 16, 2021

MING conducts joint dental clinic focusing on readiness and training

By Master Sgt. David Eichaker

BATTLE CREEK, Mich.—With the focus on readiness in a joint environment, the 110th Wing hosted a joint dental clinic involving dental teams from the 110th Medical Group and the 4th Dental Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, which is a Navy Reserve unit based in Marietta, GA.

The dental clinic, unofficially named a Dental Rodeo, conducted exams on August 7 at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base during Northern Strike Exercise 21, to help enhance that joint experience in the medical field.

“We’re deploying more often in a joint force and we’re all here to take care of our Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Villaluz, general dentist, 4th Dental Battalion.

The event at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, anticipated to serve more than 200 service members from the National Guard and Navy Reserve, came together as the Michigan National Guard hosts its largest joint fires exercise at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, and when combined, make up the National All Domain Warfighting Center.

“We coordinated with the medical planners with Northern Strike 21 (NS21) and the 4th Dental Battalion came up as part of their Northern Strike Exercise,” said Capt. Tandi Bailey, Medical Administrative Officer, 110th Medical Group, Michigan Air National Guard.

Before venturing to the 110th Wing, the Navy dental team spent time in Camp Grayling to launch a dental clinic for service members participating in NS21.

“During Northern Strike, we established a fixed dental clinic in Camp Grayling,” said Villaluz. “We also packed up our examination gear, mobilized and moved forward to the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center and did examinations there.”

“We had the advanced party set up that clinic while the main body came to take care of examinations,” he added.

Being mobile and providing readiness services in multiple locations also provided training for dental teams as they teamed up with joint services.

“This allows us to be fluid, mobile, and make those decisions as to what we’re going to do for logistics moving one area to another,” said Villaluz. “We have to work with civilian partners and other services as if we were deployed and work the logistics that entails.”

During the Dental Rodeo, basic dental exams were conducted to ensure service members are current in their medical readiness, and enhancing optimal levels of oral health, which can prevent and minimize the impacts of oral diseases and injuries. Some treatment procedures, such as fillings, were provided free-of-charge at Camp Grayling.

During Northern Strike 21-2, the Navy dentists saw more than 500 patients at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Alpena Combat Readiness Center and Camp Grayling. The estimated value of services provided was $134,502.

As joint operations evolve between services and different administration forms are used, the lines between components can offer additional challenges.

“Communications are not on the same wavelength, and we don’t use the same systems or paperwork forms,” said Bailey. “But care is care, regardless of the uniform they wear—we can provide great care.”

“This is a great learning opportunity for us to see how documentation is conducted,” she said.

Different computer systems between services offer that challenge as they sometimes are not able to communicate between the Air Force, Army, and Navy, forcing the dental teams to revert to the old way of conducting business.

“We’re using paper forms to accomplish the mission,” said Bailey. “We are able to provide service specific dental forms to our Navy counterparts and vice-versa and integrate this process seamlessly.”

“We get that experience of seeing different workflow, many different ways to approach a situation and being able to come together as a team is great for a learning experience in a joint environment,” she said.

The joint experience and military strategy emphasize that joint forces must be capable of working together in large-scale combat and noncombat operations and forces must be adequately prepared for joint operations.

“It’s awesome to see other teams in action and although our battle rhythm might be different than the Navy’s, it’s been phenomenal to see the Navy team come in, get stuff done—it’s just great to see that and inspires us,” said Bailey. “You feel that pride of taking care of service members and coming together—it is very rewarding.”