GuardCare 2019 helps citizens in eastern Ohio
Story by Senior Airman Gwendalyn Smith, 179th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
NEW PHILADELPHIA , Ohio (08/10/19)
Members of the Ohio Air and Army National Guard teamed together with local medical personnel from Tuscarawas County Aug. 10-11 at the Buckeye Career Center to provide free health services to residents of the surrounding area as part of GuardCare 2019.
“GuardCare is an event that was established in 1995 after Congress authorized National Guard personnel to service under-serviced medical communities,” said 1st Lt. Victoria DiBacco, the officer in charge of GuardCare 2019. “It’s a partnership between the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Department of Health to provide those free services to the community.”
Services at this year’s event included lab work, sports physicals, women’s health exams, vaccinations, dental, vision and hearing screenings, car seat checks and drug take back stations. What medical care is included is dependent on the needs within the area chosen for GuardCare each year.
“Services are usually dictated by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the community that has been assigned GuardCare,” DiBacco said. “ODH will look at the geographic location and health data from the area to determine what county needs that support and then they’ll go to that county. The Tuscarawas (County) Health Department communicated their specific needs and that’s how services were determined.”
GuardCare allows not only the community the opportunity to get essential health care needs met, but it also offers the participating National Guard medical personnel the opportunity to do their jobs on a large scale, while improving their skills.
“The most important thing about GuardCare is that it gives the National Guard the capability to test their mass care capabilities while serving a community with free health care services,” said Katie Seward, health commissioner of the Tuscarawas County Health Department.
Overall, the event brought in more than 325 community members within the first day, allowing National Guard members to grow within the community and in their careers.
“This event is very important because National Guardsmen don’t only serve their country, they serve their state as well, so it’s great to go out and be able to serve communities in their state,” DiBacco said. “It also provides great training for guardsmen so they can actually do their job and provide those services.
Big-picture wise, our unit has a lot of passion and excitement about their job, so being tasked with this type of event allows them to utilize their skills,” DiBacco said. “We have a really good bond and teamwork.”