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Guardsmen Provide Health, Vet Care in Alaska

American Forces Press Service

NOME, Alaska, Aug. 17, 2009 – Medical personnel from the Army and Air National Guard and Coast Guard traveled 6,600 miles in three days to visit three Alaska communities as part of Operation Arctic Crossroads.

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Air Force Capt. Rhonda Ellison, a veterinarian with the Alabama Air National Guard, gives a rabies shot to a dog in the village of Koyuk, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jon-Paul Rios
  

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The three services, along with active-duty Air Force personnel, will provide medical, dental and optometry services to residents of nine remote villages in the state through Aug. 24.

Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Dixon Christian treated more than 40 patients during outreach efforts in the communities of Kivalina, Koyuk and Wales. Air Force Lt. Col. Huey Frye, an optometrist from the Tennessee Air National Guard’s 118th Medical Group, saw more than 45 patients; Air Force Maj. Mike Lewis of the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Medical Group and Air Force Capt. Rhonda Ellison of the Alabama Air National Guard’s 117th Medical Group – both veterinarians -- gave rabies shots and other vaccinations to more than 115 animals.

“You could tell that the people really loved their pets,” Ellison said. “The people were very receptive to our efforts and would love for us to return in the future.”

On the North Slope, veterinarians have treated more than 20 animals in Barrow and Wainwright.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary also has reached out within the communities, helping to promote water safety with an emphasis on the “Kids Don’t Float” campaign, which loans life jackets for children to use while at sea.

A forward operating location has been established here. Four MH/HH-60 helicopters and crews from the Army and Air National Guard and the Coast Guard are providing air transportation and logistics throughout the state.

Operation Arctic Crossroads is an effort to integrate local knowledge with military expertise to meet the many challenges of Arctic operations.

(From a Coast Guard Atlantic Area news release.)

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Related Sites:
Operation Arctic Crossroads
National Guard Bureau
U.S. Coast Guard

Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Capt. Rhonda Ellison of the Alabama Air National Guard and Air Force Maj. Mike Lewis of the Georgia Air National Guard are escorted by the children of Kivalina, Alaska, to houses in the village with pets in need of veterinary care. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Lt. Col. Huey Frye, an optometrist with the Tennessee Air National Guard, performs an eye exam on Isabelle Booth, a Kivalina, Alaska, native. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area  
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