Military medical professionals arrive in Alaska

‘Arctic Care’ brings health care to remote villages


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Arctic Care participants sit onboard an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Monday before heading to Nome. Medical professionals from the Alaska National Guard, Arizona National Guard, Colorado National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve and active duty will spend the next two weeks providing medical care to Alaskans in 16 remote communities.

alaska national guard photo/maj. guy hayes

Military aircraft carrying participants for Arctic Care 2012 arrived in Alaska Monday, April 9 for the largest recurring joint military medical readiness and logistics training exercise.

Medical professionals from the Arizona and Colorado National Guard, Army Reserve and Navy Reserve began arriving from the lower 48 as early as April 2, with the majority arriving Monday. They are joined by active duty military, Alaska National Guardsmen and host support from the Norton Sound Health Corporation. 

With more than 250 military medical professionals traveling to Nome to provide care in 16 remote locations to underserved populations, accountability of personnel is crucial to ensuring safety during the two-week mission and is accomplished through the Joint Reception Staging Onward Movement Integration or JRSOI. 

“The objective is to in-process the personnel for accountability before they travel to the various villages in support of Arctic Care 2012,” said Army Lt. Col. Don Mercer, JRSOI commander, Alaska National Guard. “We accomplish this by conducting briefings, answering questions and providing support to all the participants involved in this operation.”

The JRSOI centralizes and controls the movement of all service members arriving in Alaska and provides accountability to the joint task force commander.

As the service members arrive in Nome, they receive a welcome message from Gov. Sean Parnell and an overview briefing that covers the exercise along with safety, legal, public relations and community information.

“It's very important that we have visibility of all service members flowing in to Alaska in support of Operation Arctic Care 2012,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Deborah McManus, chief of joint staff for the Alaska National Guard. “They are performing a vital mission in support of rural Alaska residents, and it's our job to ensure that we account and take care of every service member coming to Alaska for Arctic Care.”

Operation Arctic Care, led this year by the Alaska National Guard, will bring health care and veterinary support to residents in the Bering Strait and Norton Sound regions of western Alaska.

Sponsored by the Innovative Readiness Training program under the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, Arctic Care is scheduled until April 23.

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