MANSFIELD, Ohio - Members of the Ohio Air and Army National Guard teamed together with local medical personnel from Tuscarawas County Aug. 10-11 at the Buckeye Career Center, New Philadelphia, Ohio, to provide free health services to the surrounding area as part of GuardCare 2019.

"GuardCare is an event that was established in 1995 after congress authorized National Guard personnel to service under-serviced medical communities," said 1st Lt. Victoria Dibacco, the officer in charge of GuardCare. "It's a partnership between the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to provide those free services to the community."

Services included at this year's event included lab work, sports physicals, women's health exams, vaccinations, dental, vision, and hearing screenings, car seat checks and drug take-back stations.

What medical care is included is dependent on the needs within the area chosen for GuardCare.

"Services are usually dictated by the Ohio Department of Health and the community that has been assigned GuardCare," said Dibacco. "ODH will look at the geographic location and health data from the area to determine what county needs that support and then they'll go to that county. The Tuscarawas Health Department communicated their specific needs and that's how services were determined."

GuardCare allows not only the community the opportunity to get essential healthcare needs met, but it also offers the National Guard members to do their jobs in a large scale, while improving their skills.

"The most important thing about GuardCare is that it gives the National Guard the capability to test their mass care capabilities while serving a community with free healthcare services," said Katie Seward, Health Commissioner of the Tuscarawas Health Department.

Overall, the event brought in over 325 community members within the first day, allowing National Guard members to grow within the community and in their careers.

"This event is very important because National Guardsmen don't only serve their country they serve their state as well so it's great to go out and be able to serve communities in their state," said Dibacco. "It also provides great training for Guard members so they can actually do their job and provide those services.

"Big picture-wise our unit has a lot of passion and excitement about their job, so being tasked with this type of event allows them to utilize their skills," said Dibacco. "We have a really good bond and teamwork."