NATO AIR BASE GEILENKIRCHEN, Germany --
Traditionally, annual training consists of a Reserve unit blending into the local host unit. For one duo, however, that wasn’t the case.
Lt. Col. David Miller, the officer in charge of optometry with the 442d Medical Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Eric Miller, the NCO in charge of optometry with the 442d Medical Squadron, supported NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen from June 16 - June 30.
The optometry duo worked as a two-man shop at Geilenkirchen, a satellite clinic site for Spangdahlem Air Base Optometry. They handled patient intake, coding of medical information, and the ordering of eyewear for patients, among other tasks, said Lt. Col. Miller.
Generally, the clinic at Geilenkirchen is provided an optometrist from Spangdahlem for one week, three times a year. During those visits, the team is usually able to see about 150 patients per year, said Lt. Col. Jill Blake, a medical administrator with the 422d Medical Squadron.
Together, Lt Col Miller and Staff Sgt. Miller saw 105 patients over the course of their two-week stay, which provided a 70 percent increase ion Spangdahlem’s annual capacity to provide eye care. They were also able to see a variety of other patients, including members from multiple branches, spouses, and children, rather than having to prioritize by level of importance.
“I felt like this annual training was one where we really accomplished the mission,” said Lt. Col. Miller. “We saw such a wide variety of ages, and the scope of practice was fairly wide, differing from other missions I’ve done.”
The help provided by the Miller duo allowed many patients the benefit of not having to travel for care, as the drive to Spangdahlem from Geilenkirchen is about two hours.
“It was very rewarding and out of the norm,” said Staff Sgt. Miller. “You could tell that what we were doing helped save a lot of people time and money.”
“In comparison to our reserve weekends where we’re not seeing it at a full clinical capacity.” Staff Sgt. Miller said. “On the reserve weekend we’re usually screening to make sure a member can see versus when we do this, we get to do it at the full scope of practice. You get to see kids and everybody and you see diseases, you see conditions, you see more significant need.”