WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy's Dental Corps celebrated its 91st anniversary Aug. 22, with a combined active and Reserve force of 1,582 men and women dedicated to ensuring the quality dental care of Navy personnel, their beneficiaries and retirees.
These committed dental professionals have supported Navy Medicine's mission of Force Health Protection (FHP) with their many contributions and efforts abroad and at home.
"Dental Corps officers ensured that Navy and Marine Corps forces were deployed at levels of dental readiness at or exceeding 95 percent, with many units deploying at 100 percent," said Rear Adm. Dennis D. Woofter, chief of the Dental Corps. "Plus, many units deployed at record levels of dental 'health,' the key indicator of their potential to remain dentally ready for the duration of the operation."
Not only are Dental Corps personnel striving to achieve the FHP mission, but they also displayed their operational readiness talents during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
"One-hundred forty Dental Corps officers, active-duty and Reservists, deployed aboard ships with organic dental departments, with medical augmentation platforms aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), the Casualty Receiving and Treatment Ships, and ashore with the fleet hospitals. Elements from two active-duty dental battalions and one Reserve dental battalion went into the deserts and mountains with the Marines." said Woofter. "Those dental officers were well trained and well equipped to provide the necessary dental care, plus, they were prepared to do so even if challenged by chemical or biological threats. Currently, approximately 25 dental officers remain engaged in OIF."
OIF is just one of many operations the Dental Corps has been involved with recently. They are also very heavily involved in combating terrorism.
"The Dental Corps has taken an aggressive stance on being more aware of and better prepared to assist during Navy Medicine's response to acts or threats of terrorism," said Woofter. "Following the attacks of Sept. 11, dental officers at all 15 dental commands participated in the formal CBRNE [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive] training prescribed by the Naval Medical Education and Training Command (NMETC)."
The Dental Corps is currently working on two new initiatives, which include OIF 'after-action' reports and optimization of dental services at dental treatment facilities.
"First, there will be the analysis of the after action reports from Operation Iraqi Freedom to glean some 'lessons learned' that will improve the delivery of dental care in the operational or combat theater," said Woofter. "Second, will be the goal of optimizing the delivery of dental services at our fixed dental treatment facilities. Success in this endeavor will result in significantly increased productivity which will directly support maintaining a healthy, fit fighting force."
Although Woofter is extremely proud of the Dental Corps this year, he admits the entire operation includes many other personnel.
"I am especially pleased this year that the actions of Dental Corps officers preparing for and participating in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom have added another chapter to the proud legacy of the Dental Corps," said Woofter.
"Equally important, Dental Corps officers who did not deploy, picked up the pace without missing a beat, sustaining availability of services on the home front," continued Woofter. "As proud as I am of Dental Corps Officers, I am the first one to acknowledge that Navy Dentistry and its successes include much more than just the Dental Corps Officers. It certainly includes dentists, hygienists, auxiliaries, administrative staff, contractors, civilian personnel, enlisted and volunteers. All in all, a great team."
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