PLEASANTON, Calif. — More than 80 Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard traveled to Pleasanton, California Sept. 15-19, for an Innovative Readiness Training exercise intended to improve their deployment and readiness capabilities.
The four-day event, titled East Bay Stand Down, allowed the service members to meet critical training requirements while providing medical, dental and optometry care to the medically underserved, homeless veteran community of the East Bay Region.
Numerous civilian professionals combined forces with military members to provide additional services such as hair care, health and wellness, spiritual guidance, job training and legal dispute resolution.
“I’ve heard it told that this is not a hand out but a hand up,” said Lt. Col. Brad Meyers, 115th Fighter Wing medical group physician. “These are veterans who have served their country proudly, and this is our opportunity to give back to them.”
The joint training exercise included National Guard and Reserve units of four service branches, from eight different states.
The Defense Department’s IRT program is a critical element in making EBSD possible, said Jerry Yahiro, EBSD program director.
“The IRT provides us with the facilities and medical personnel to help us stand up and maintain the encampment,” Yahiro said. “Without the IRT we could not accomplish the mission we are trying to do.”
In total, Wisconsin’s Soldiers and Airmen helped serve approximately 370 participating veterans by conducting more than 2000 procedures to include medical exams, vision screens, dental procedures and immunizations, while simultaneously meeting essential training requirements.
“It’s in the finest tradition of the National Guard in that we are citizen soldiers serving our fellow citizens, and in this case, our comrades in arms,” Meyers said.