Dentist assists in Guam Wellness IRT
Dentist assists in Guam Wellness IRT
U.S. Air Force Maj. Shawn Countryman, a dentist from the 10th Dental Squadron, is grateful to be serving during the Guam Wellness Innovative Training at the Calvo Field House at the University of Guam 80 years after his grandfather, Donald Wilson Irvine, served in Guam during WWII.
Both Countryman and his grandfather are from small-town Hudson, Wyoming. Countryman states his grandfather was drafted for WWII in 1940 and served on the island of Guam in an artillery unit. Irvine finished his Army service as a technical sergeant, a rank no longer used in the Army.
The Japanese captured Guam in 1941, and the Chamorros of Guam suffering immense cruelty during Japanese rule. It is estimated that 1,170 Chamorros were killed with over 14,000 suffering from forced labor, beatings, torture, rape, and murder. The Battle of Guam in 1944 was the American recapture of the Japanese-held island of Guam. American casualties included 1,700 dead and 6,000 wounded.
Countryman goes on to say, “it's amazing to realize that me and my grandfather were here on this small island on the other side of the world, a lifetime of 80 years apart. This little part of the world that most people from our local area will never ever see. He and I share a slightly better connection now. Although our military missions on Guam were vastly different we both have served our country's needs.”
Countryman is currently a dentist, specialized in oral and maxillofacial radiology. His dental section provided over 3,350 services during the very busy IRT.
Countryman states that during the high paced operation, “there were two patients that stood out to me. The first was a young girl in her 20s who had a deep cavity on her front tooth. She was a few months away from the cavity causing catastrophic damage, potentially resulting in tooth loss. The treatment she received undoubtedly saved her tooth, avoiding the social stigmas associated with bad teeth and lost future opportunities.”
Countryman notes that Guam community members were so grateful for the services being provided at no cost. He states, “the second patient was a father who suffered from chronic tooth pain. After removing two badly infected teeth, he offered a heavenly blessing to me and my family because I came from the other side of the world to take his pain away. The blessing was everything he had to give at that moment.”
Countryman is currently the Support Flight Commander of the 10th Dental Squadron at the U.S. Air Force Academy. When asked if he would ever participate in another IRT, he stated without hesitation, “absolutely.”
“Making those human connections through service are what I live for. They bring immeasurable joy to my life.”
Guam Wellness Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) is a joint multicomponent and interagency program with the Department of Defense and the Department of Public Health and Social Services that leverages military contributions and community resources to multiply value and cost savings for participants. The Guam IRT provides no cost healthcare services, ranging from medical, dental, optometry, and immunizations, to the communities of Guam, Aug. 2-10, 2023.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Shawn Countryman, a dentist from the 10th Dental Squadron, along with Active Duty U.S. Air Force Jasean Ward, dental assistant from the 10th Dental Squadron perform three extractions on a patient during the Guam Wellness Innovative Readiness Training, Aug. 3. Guam Wellness IRT is a joint multicomponent and interagency program with the Department of Defense and the Department of Public Health and Social Services that leverages military contributions and community resources to multiply value and cost savings for participants. The Guam IRT provides no cost healthcare services, ranging from medical, dental, optometry, and immunizations, to the communities of Guam, Aug. 2-10, 2023.
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