IRT mission changes life of Vietnam veteran
September 5, 2012
SELMA, Ala. - A Vietnam veteran expressed his gratitude to military members participating in an Innovative Readiness Training mission Alabama Care 2012 Friday at a Selma medical clinic here.
Joseph Stoudenmeyer, a Vietnam veteran from Selma found himself homeless and without a job in May, but shortly after receiving free medical care and chaplaincy assistance through the IRT mission Alabama Care 2012, landed a new job and a home.
Alabama Care 2012 is an Air National Guard led IRT multi-service mission comprised of active duty, Reserve, and National Guard members from Army, Navy and Air Force components focusing on deployment and readiness training in a joint-service environment while simultaneously providing free medical, dental, and ophthalmology services to underserved residents in the community while increasing their quality of life. Medical demands of the community were so great that the IRT mission returned to Selma Aug. 7-14. More than 10,000 residents are expected to receive need medical services.
"The [Roman Catholic Church] I attend here in Selma spoke about Alabama Care a few Sundays ago," said Stoudenmeyer. "We talked about how the military came to help Selma and surrounding counties in May and how blessed we are that they are returning."
Stoudenmeyer took advantage of the optometric, dental and medical care offered by Alabama Care 2012 in May at a Selma medical clinic. This care allowed him to obtain a job and a home. He had two teeth extracted, received a new pair of eyeglasses, and spoke with a psychologist about his situation.
"I spoke about my situation with a psychologist, [Cmdr. Debra Soto, Navy Operational Health Support Unit in Hawaii] which contacted the local Veteran Affairs office on my behalf and four days later I had an apartment and a job," said Stoudenmeyer.
People in need, like Joseph Stoudenmeyer, are one reason the IRT mission returned to Alabama. The large number of Selma residents do not have medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage and the IRT mission can provide all three services at no cost to residents while maintaining mission critical readiness to service members.
"It is wonderful and has helped a lot of people by the military coming back here because many don't have insurance," said Stoudenmeyer. "Without the military's intervention, I don't think any of us would have been able to receive this care."
Stoudenmeyer received more than just vision and dental examinations when he came to the Selma medical clinic. Like many of the patients, he was very pleased with the services he was provided and found that his life has improved significantly due to Alabama Care 2012.
"The residents here are welcoming us with open arms and are happy that we are here to serve their community." said Cmdr. Lisa Gittleman, IRT program director. "We can't walk down the street, go in a store or a restaurant, without residents thanking us for coming back to Selma, Alabama."