KOTZEBUE, AK. -- Strengthening and building new partnerships with culturally complex populations in remote areas of the United States is a key goal of the Innovative Readiness Training Program. Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Villaluz is a Vancouver, Washington, native and Reserve Sailor who plays a key role in developing and maintaining those lasting bonds.
Innovative Readiness Training is a Department of Defense sponsored program that aims to produce mission-ready forces through military training opportunities that provide key services for underserved communities throughout the United States.
Villaluz is a dental officer with 4th Dental Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group and is participating with his unit at Innovative Readiness Training Arctic Care 2018 in the Northwest Arctic Borough of the state of Alaska, April 13-27, 2018. When he’s not providing dental care in the Navy, Villaluz works as a full time dentist at his private practice “Southview Family Dental” in Vancouver, Washington.
For IRT Arctic Care, Villaluz is the dental officer in charge and is responsible for overseeing all dental operations taking place in Kotzebue, as well as the outlying villages where service members are providing care.
“My main purpose for this training is logistics coordination between the civilians and the military,” Villaluz said. “Prior to the training kicking off, I came to Kotzebue to make liaisons with the local dental league to let them know what services we can provide and to find out what the specific needs of the villages were. That way, we could adjust our personnel and gear to meet their needs and be more successful.”
Villaluz decided to join the Navy in 2013 to gain the military experience and fulfill his desire to serve.
“What I love about being a part of 4th Dental Battalion is that there are so many dentists like myself who are doing this for the love of their country and their desire to give back,” Villaluz said. “You run across a number of people who want to be here serving their country. Being around those types of positive people really makes you grow as a family.”
Reserve Marines spend two weeks each year building their capabilities at an Annual Training exercise. This year, 4th Dental Battalion is conducting readiness training by providing medical care to 12 remote villages in the Northwest Arctic Borough. This training helps ensure the service members are ready to activate whenever the nation calls.
“This is my second IRT mission and I love them because of the humanitarian aspect, as well has having the joint services here working together,” Villaluz said. “We are getting some great training for situations we may find ourselves in the future. There is a lot of values in IRT’s because of that real world scenario training, which keeps our skills fresh and makes sure we are ready to work in any environment we are put in to.”