Forward, Ready, Now and Smiling

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Steam escapes out of the giant "dishwasher" door when it is opened. Drill heads and mouth mirrors are now sterile and clean, left to dry before resuming another busy day at the 39th Medical Group Dental Clinic.

Remaining Forward, Ready, Now is a top priority in U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and the 39th MDG Dental Clinic plays a crucial role in keeping service members fit to fight.

Being worldwide qualified is an essential part of being a mission-ready service member. Some forget however that being worldwide qualified requires being dentally healthy as well. Dentists downrange are primarily tasked with oral surgeries rather than general dentistry. Those services need to be addressed at home station before the service member is forward deployed.

The base is already considered "forward," in many respects citing world events transpiring in the regions surrounding the installation's host nation of Turkey, and that requires everyone to be ready, now.

"Because of the location that we are in, it is extremely important for us to keep everyone dentally ready at all times," said Staff Sgt. Ashley Billups, 39th Medical Group dental assistant.

The 39th MDG dental clinic supports more than 2,000 U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army personnel as well as military NATO counterparts here, at Izmir Air Station and 717th Air Base Squadron in Ankara, Turkey.

There are 16 enlisted service members and three officers on the dental team. The enlisted ranks handle duties such as dental assistance, constructing prosthetics and sterilizing instruments, while officers fulfill their duties as dentists.

This clinic is the only self-sustaining medical service in the 39th Medical Group. From check in, to a patient's departure, the dental staff handles all of the needs of their appointments inclusively.

If a service cannot be provided on base, the clinic will send service members either downtown or to Germany for further care.

Active-duty service members are not the only ones who require dental attention. Dependents are seen at the clinic on a space-available basis. They are also eligible to be seen off-base by an approved Tricare provider.

According to Senior Airman Jamal Griffin, 39th MDG dental technician, even with the demanding schedule, the clinic runs as well as it does due to clinic's focus on teamwork.

"We work as a big team here," said Griffin. "Without a great team, it wouldn't be possible to provide the best dental care and customer service on-base."

Good customer service is important to every Airman at the 39th MDG dental clinic.

"I love my job because I get to work one-on-one with people," said Billups. "I can learn about people and learn about their job in the Air Force at the same time as being a dental tech. It has taught me patience and understanding that everyone is different with different feelings and to be compassionate with all of the family members and active duty."