Joint optometry team gives warfighters clarity
By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Airmen at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar and U.S. Soldiers at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, combine optometry capabilities to ensure servicemembers across U.S. Central Command are able to focus on their mission.
Once a week, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Carra, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group optometry officer in charge, and Tech. Sgt. Marquita Moore, 379th EMDG optometry NCO in charge, travel from AUAB to CAS to perform eye exams alongside their U.S. Army counterparts of Area Support Group – Qatar.
Carra and Moore provide Soldiers at CAS eye exams, physicals and referrals to ensure their optometry needs are met while deployed.
“You need your eyes for everything,” Carra said “In order to do your job, whether it’s shooting, operating a computer, driving a truck or providing medical care, you have to see what you’re doing. We have services that allow our members to get to 20/20. Just having that extra advantage and sharpness gives you that extra capability that strengthens the mission.”
While Carra and Moore handle prescriptions, U.S. Army optical laboratory specialists handle the creation of glasses for patients throughout U.S. Central Command, grinding and shaping lenses on site to fit individual needs.
“We scratch each other’s back,” said U.S. Army Spc. Carlos Rodriguez, Area Support Group - Qatar optical laboratory specialist. “They come over here to CAS and they give everyone their prescriptions and I make all their orders. I’m helping them out and they’re taking time out of their schedule to help the Army out.”
Carra said the Army’s ability to create lenses the same day prescriptions are written saves time, enabling servicemembers to operate with rapid efficiency.
“At Al Udeid we don’t have the ability to grind lenses,” said Carra. “We can do all the ordering and testing back at the base, but here is where the rubber hits the road. They’re basically cutting the lenses, taking the prescription blanks, putting them into the frames people choose and then delivering them back to us.”
Carra said the teamwork is a step in the right direction toward future joint medical interoperability.
“The Army’s been great. They’ve been super welcoming and very accommodating,” said Carra. “During this deployment I’ve had that opportunity to work with the Army to see some of the forms they use, see some of their programs and specialties, and I think it’s a really good step to one day having a more united medical service.”
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