Story by SSgt Darby Arnold on 06/25/2019ANCHORAGE, Alaska (June 21, 2019) Airmen from the 134th Air Refueling Wing Medical Group traveled to Anchorage, Alaska for their annual deployment for training here, June 16-29.
The 134th MDG participates in this Medical Field Annual Training (MFAT) as part of the Air National Guard Medical Service's four year training cycle plan. This ensures airmen are up to date on training in preparation for deployment.
"The importance of taking TDYs as a group is not only for focused training in a specific environment, but also for camaraderie and learning more about each other that we may not get the time to do on a UTA weekend. As individuals, it is important to take training TDYs to keep current on AFSC specific skills, as well as operating in an active duty environment," said Chief Master Sgt. Jana Johnson, 134th MDG Chief. "The UTA environment and the active duty environment differs greatly for some AFSCs, such as the 4A's and 4N's. These personnel are utilized in many different skillsets and it is training that unfortunately cannot be duplicated on a UTA weekend."
This year the 134th MDG traveled to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), Alaska to train with active duty members from the 673rd MDG at the DoD/VA Joint Venture Hospital.
"One of the biggest benefits from training with active duty is the ability to actively participate in providing care to military treatment facility beneficiaries and perform tasks that they may not otherwise get a chance to accomplish during UTA weekends," said Johnson. "Another benefit is the ability for us to share our knowledge with them, as well. The ability to bridge the gaps between the active duty and Air National Guard environments can be challenging at times. However, regular training with the active duty is crucial to minimize that gap."
The 134th MDG Airmen take away more than just training from these types of trips.
"Everyone should be able to take away from this trip their individual roles within the duty section as well as how they fit into the MTF environment and the overall mission," said Johnson. "This facility is a joint facility so members have been able to witness and perform in a joint duty environment."
Traveling TDY with other members allows an opportunity for not only training on AFSC duties, but an opportunity to get to know one another as individuals and as a team. Airmen had the opportunity to spend some time together sight-seeing and participating in outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, fishing and more.
"The importance of being able to utilize their down time to explore the area is that it allows them to strengthen their interpersonal relationships with each other," said Johnson. "To hear their excitement in their voices as they talk about their day or see their faces with huge smiles as they take in what others have done, it shows that they are growing in their relationships."
During the two weeks, the 134th MDG members were able to spend countless hours with the active duty members of JBER.
"Our personnel have expressed numerous times how outstanding their training has been at JBER and the opportunities to coordinate training in several different areas with their JBER counterparts," said Johnson. "Many have felt that this is important training and have taken their training seriously. Many have learned new skills and have honed their current skills. Communication between our active duty counterparts has been effortless and would definitely recommend returning for training if the opportunity were to arise."