BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts --
In the military, Periodic Health Assessment is a screening tool used to evaluate the individual medical readiness of service members. At Barnes Air National Guard Base, these assessments are conducted annually to ensure members are worldwide deployable. Public Health specialist Airman 1st Class Veronica Bazcah, worked alongside medical personnel to conduct hearing tests for PHAs in a mobile audiology testing trailer at Barnes on March 7- 8, 2020.
Bazcah has served at Barnes for a little over two years and initially enlisted to help fund her education at Worcester State University, where she is a junior majoring in Public Health.
“I am a member of public health in the medical group,” says Bazcah. “My job covers a lot, ranging from entomology to food inspections, deployment health and occupational health.”
It’s the job of Public Health specialists to protect forces from an extensive array of illness and disease by minimizing health risks within the community. PHAs are one outlet that medical uses to maximize troop readiness and can include screenings in vision, behavioral health, cardiovascular health, and measurements and documentation of vitals.
“As part of our work in entomology, we will go outside and tick drag and catch mosquitos. For tick drags, we take a sheet, a stick and a string and you literally just drag the contraption through the woods to collect specimens, which is pretty fun. Although you look ridiculous.”
Public health Specialists are also responsible for educating Airmen on safety procedures and for investigating hazardous materials and sanitary standards.
“PHAs are fast paced but you get a lot of work done,” says Bazcah. “For example, we have had more than 120 service members go through the audiogram trailer this weekend alone.”
Bazcah explained that the key to success as a public health specialist is to be willing to work hard and to step outside comfort zones in order to take on new responsibilities.