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Air Force medics welcome Afghan evacuees, provide medical support

  • Published
  • By Shireen Bedi
  • Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs
When a crisis emerges, the nation can rely on medical Airmen to quickly lend their capabilities to support a whole-of-government response. Amid Operation Allies Welcome, these Airmen are playing a critical role in providing medical care to more than 50,000 Afghan evacuees.

“Air Force medics across the country are providing a full range of support from medical screening and vaccination support to basic primary care through trauma and critical care capabilities, as well as providing any ancillary care required to sustain that service,” said Col. Colin Smyth, U.S. Air Force Director of Expeditionary Medical Policy and Operations. “Additionally, medics are providing significant support in locations where transiting Afghan personnel and families may be required to stay for a short period of time.”

In support of the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 500 medical Airmen are working alongside sister services and interagency partners to ensure Afghan evacuees get the medical treatment and screening they require. Some of the medical teams deployed include primary care, pediatrics, outpatient, obstetrics/gynecology, mental health, dental and lab.

“Air Force medics remain fully trained and ready to support all of our medical operations, including foreign humanitarian assistance and defense support to civil authorities,” said Smyth.

Since the end of July, medical Airmen have been deployed to be a part of different task forces positioned at military bases across the country.

As part of Task Force-Liberty at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, Air Force medics worked to rapidly set up medical facilities to provide care and administer vaccines. U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Megan Busellato, assigned to the 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was one of many health care professionals providing immunizations.

“Everything we’ve trained for and have done with COVID response has, in a way, given all of us a sense of preparedness for such a monumental moment,” she said.

To date, Task Force Liberty has provided support to more than 9,000 evacuees.

Read more: National Guardsmen team up with active duty, reserve to support Operation Allies Welcome

Read more: TF Liberty Airmen provide care and kindness for Afghan guests receiving medical care

In Virginia, the Airmen assigned to Task Force-Eagle at Fort Lee and Task Force-Pickett at Fort Pickett have aided in administering vaccines to Afghan evacuees, as well as helped in streamlining processes and the flow of personnel. Approximately 6,500 Afghan evacuees have received care at these two locations.

Read more: Eglin medics provide COVID-19 vaccines to Afghan evacuees

Read more: Fort Lee Supports Afghan Relocation

At Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, Air Force medics helped to care for more than 4,000 evacuees. Lt. Col. Kristen DeWilde, Operational Medicine chief assigned to Task Force-Holloman, describes how her team arrived with nothing more than a tent in an open field. They quickly set up a 12-tent hospital with ER, family medicine and pediatric care.

“We are seeing these families who have gone through so much,” said DeWilde. “I tell our medics every day, ‘You’re building Americans here, so let’s figure out the most efficient way to do that.’”

Watch: Task Force-Holloman's Expeditionary Medical Support System

Read more: Expeditionary Medical Support System takes care of Afghan evacuees

Read more: Task Force-Holloman sets up, sustains support for Afghan refugees

“The Air Force Medical Service has shown its inherent flexibility in the face of crisis,” said Smyth. “We have demonstrated an ability to immediately adapt to an emerging requirement to accomplish the mission.”