Military spouses earn dental certification through Red Cross

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A newly reactivated program at Osan Air Base enables military spouses to receive dental training and certifications through volunteer hours.

The Red Cross Dental Certification Program allows spouses to work with the base dental staff for 1,000 hours of hands-on training over a six-month to become certified dental technicians and Red Cross volunteers.

"The Air Force has been utilizing this program for awhile, but Osan has not used the program in a few years so our leadership decided it would be a good idea," said Staff Sgt. Ashley Lathem, 51st Dental Squadron dental assistant supervisor. "We just jumped on it and got the advertisement out there so we could get the volunteers to work."

The logistical planning of the Red Cross dental certification program began in July and on-the-job training started in September. For the 2012 cycle, 11 military spouses volunteered for the dental program, but only five were selected.

Annmarie Gregory, a Red Cross volunteer dental assistant, was one of the five selected for the training.

"Being a military spouse in Korea -- it's a little difficult to find a job so I decided to help the military, the community, and to better myself by being a Red Cross volunteer," she said. "What I like best is working with professionals and seeing the smile on the patient's face after a procedure and hands on training," she said.

The program is new, but the staff is very excited about it, Lathem explained.

"The program is really beneficial to us because it allows us to alleviate some personnel shortages and also allows the volunteers to learn a skill that they can use not just here, but also at their next assignment," Lathem said. "They're training first hand with an active duty technician and it's determined that they have a good enough baseline to be on their own.

"Most of their training is provided on the job, so once their training is complete they're able to do everything from a routine dental examination to IV sedation with oral surgeries," she added.

"I would definitely suggest this program, especially to the military spouses," Gregory said. "All they have to do is volunteer a thousand hours of their time for six months and it's all OJT. Then they'll be a certified Dental Assistant at the end of the program."