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445 ASTS partners with Dayton VA Medical Center for training

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - Reservists assigned to the 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron stand on the steps outside the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center Feb. 23 during their bi-monthly training. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - Reservists assigned to the 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron stand on the steps outside the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center Feb. 23 during their bi-monthly training. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Reservists that work in radiology, pharmacy, nursing, dietetics, biomedical equipment repair, or as medical technicians are becoming better equipped to handle future missions thanks to a recently renewed Memorandum of Understanding.

The MOU, approved last September, partners the 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron with the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The first 445th ASTS members attended training at the center in January and 12-15 members will be continuing to hone their skills there every other Unit Training Assembly.

"This is critical training that they're not getting anywhere else," said Lt. Col. Jennifer Wedel, 445th ASTS director of training. "The VA medical center affords our members the opportunity to learn new skills and techniques and accomplish hard-to-achieve verifications. It's a great training platform."

Pharmacy, for example, is able to practice sterile technique at the VAMC. If the technique is called for in a contingency or disaster, they will have received the valuable hands-on experience.

"The role of the Reservists here is really two-fold: they practice the day-to-day skills that are nurses and techs use on the floor, and they receive valuable hands-on skills for deployed situations," said Bob Gauder, Dayton VAMC Nursing Education Coordinator.
"It's been a well-rounded working relationship. We at the VAMC have a mission to serve veterans who have served and we have a parallel mission to help the 445th Reservists maintain mission readiness," he continued.

Aside from the technical skills, Reservists and patients alike benefit from the personal face time.

"The veteran patients really connect with people in uniform. They love to tell them their stories; it's a true emotional connection," said Gauder.

"Our med techs and nurses really enjoy it, too," added Wedel.

The MOU, which required multiple levels of coordination, has been such a success that Gauder says he hopes they are able to expand participation in the future.