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Service members from across the nation receive a brief at Ponce, Puerto Rico, April 26, 2019, during Innovative Readiness Training Puerto Rico. Marine Forces Reserve Sailors are working jointly with several National Guard and Reserve units from across the nation to provide medical care in Puerto Rico during a two-week medical exercise.

Photo by Sgt. Andy Martinez

Marine Forces Reserve Sailors, service members kick off Innovative Readiness Training

29 Apr 2019 | Sgt. Andy Martinez The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

U.S. Navy Sailors with 4th Dental Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve are participating in Innovative Readiness Training Ola de Esperanza Sanadora 2019 across multiple sites in Puerto Rico from April 25– May 8, 2019.

Ola de Esperanza Sanadora, which translates to Healing Wave of Hope, is part of a civil and joint military program to improve military readiness while simultaneously providing quality services to underserved communities throughout the United States. The mission of this IRT is to provide dental, optometry and medical care to the community while performing joint military humanitarian operations. 

“We have approximately 500 participants supporting this IRT,” said U.S. Navy Capt. James T. Quinn, an administration officer and pediatric dentist with 4th Dental Battalion, 4th MLG, MARFORRES. “The service members are here to increase our mission readiness by acquiring more training hours as well as providing a service at no cost to the local communities.”

There are 25 Sailors from 4th Dental Battalion that are involved in this IRT. Also joining the MARFORRES Sailors are Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Air National Guard, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Active Duty Navy and Army. 

Strengthening the community

In 1992, the IRT program began when the Department of Defense searched for innovative programs to serve American communities in need and provide realistic military training benefits. The three primary areas of emphasis were health care, infrastructure support and youth training programs.

IRT Ola de Esperanza Sanadora 2019 is an opportunity to increase the quality of life for fellow Americans while challenging the deployment skills and readiness of those involved. The objective is to leave a lasting, positive impact on the health and well-being of the local population served and to develop and execute mission training between different military branches.

“Without this IRT program, the Sailors, and other participating units wouldn’t receive the valuable hands-on training programs like this provides us,” said Quinn. 

Hands-on, real-world training

Participants in the event say, in addition to benefiting the community, the Sailors have been able to receive hands-on training to improve readiness and survivability in complex contingency environments.

"IRTs are unique because it provides realistic training in a joint environment,” Quinn added. “We never know when the next crisis at home or abroad will show up and we must be ready for that at any moment. Training opportunities such as this help us prepare for the unknown.”

For many of the Reserve Sailors, this is critical training time they might not receive back home at their home training centers.

“There are many dentist, medical personnel, and optometrist from across the U.S. that have ample experience in their field,” said Quinn. “We can pass our knowledge to the next generation of sailors and service members that are still new to this.

According to those involved, the value of training time is the major attraction.

“As Reservists we don’t get a lot of hands on time with the equipment unless we do this profession in the civilian world too,” said Quinn. “This is a good opportunity for us to operate and challenge ourselves. We get to compare and contrast how the other branches work and reach a common goal together.”

The Sailors have a unique opportunity to meet their annual training requirements as well as the needs of multiple American communities in Puerto Rico.

“This project is not only helping increase the health of the community but it is really helping to sustain the community and their culture,” said Quinn. “At the end of the day, I like seeing the people receiving our services are grateful and support what the service members are doing in Puerto Rico.”

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