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Med Hawks sign MoU and increase interoperability

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shannon Braaten, 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 8th Medical Group, alongside medical representatives from Gunsan Public Health, signed a memorandum of understanding at Kunsan Air Base, March 30, kicking off Public Health Week, April 3-9.

The MoU was signed by Dr. (Col.) Rene “Hawk” Saenz, 8th Medical Group commander, and Ms. Sung Nak Yong, Gunsan Public Health head, with other members of the local medical community in attendance. The agreement is intended to improve coordination and care between the Wolf Pack and medical facilities in the local area during emergency situations.

“It is essential to have a good standing relationship with host nation health departments,” said Maj. Tanviben "Vector" Y. Patel, 8th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron public health flight commander. “These relationships allow us to better coordinate care and resources for our personnel assigned to Kunsan.”

In addition to signing the MoU, the Med Hawks further expanded their capabilities during Public Health Week with integrated training between public health and bioenvironmental engineering. 

“This week was the start of Public Health returning to a new normal, post COVID,” Patel said. “However, things are not exactly how they were three years ago. With the new Defense Health Agency structure, ‘public health’ also includes sections such as bioenvironmental, health promotions, and immunizations clinics.”

Traditionally, Air Force Public Health performs food safety and surveillance of diseases, pests, harmful plants, and vegetation while bioenvironmental engineering conducts drinking water surveillance, assesses health hazards, and work-related or ambient pollution of soil, air, and water. However, with the recent transition of medical administration to the DHA, medical personnel are training to become cross competent to help solidify an integrated system of military health.

“The Army, Navy and Air Force do not share mission alignment of Force Health Protection skills sets above,” said Maj. Todd Brackett, 8th OMRS bioenvironmental engineering flight commander. “As such, public health and bioenvironmental engineering must become cross competent so that we may successfully integrate with our sister services during future conflicts.”

The training marks a strong step towards increased readiness and interoperability, not only with U.S. sister services, but with the local community as well.

From planning contingency responses regarding aircraft incidents, expanding access to immunizations, improving safety standards for food, traffic, and the workplace, to advocating for cleaner air and water, public health professionals are working to improve the lives of all members of the Wolf Pack and ensure they are always fit to fight.