WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Five doctors from the Serbian armed forces met with 88th Medical Group personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Aug. 19 during their state visit with the Ohio Air National Guard.
The trip reinforced the Serbian military’s 15-year friendship with the Ohio National Guard through the State Partnership Program, which pairs states with U.S. ally countries around the globe to strengthen personal relationships and bolster capabilities and readiness for both nations.
The August visit focused on best practices to prevent and treat COVID-19. After a multidisciplinary discussion covering vaccine supply, schedules, effectiveness and more, the group walked through base hospital units to review equipment and safety measures.
Personnel also visited the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine.
“These opportunities for us to break bread together and learn from each other are significant,” said Lt. Col. Brad Kennedy, the Ohio Air National Guard escort. “The information exchange is meaningful, but the relationship-building serves as a foundation for future cooperation at all levels. Through these small collaborations, the trust and buy-in builds toward larger-scale efforts.”
The visit helped put flesh to ongoing virtual conversations between Ohioan and Serbian military personnel. Since March, Ohio National Guard and local hospitals have conducted weekly seminars with medical professionals from the Serbian Military Medical Academy to consider COVID-19 pandemic response through therapy, diagnostics, mental health and prevention.
“This is a great opportunity for us to get to know your medical system in the military sector; expand our knowledge, experiences and cooperation; and maybe implement some of these in Serbia,” said Dr. (Lt. Col.) Danilo Jokovic, a psychiatrist for the Serbian armed forces.
U.S. and Serbian medical specialists share an “inherent desire to heal people and openness to dialogue to improve respective practices,” Kennedy said.
“Scientific minds coming together talking about what has worked and what has not, how to approach scenarios from different perspectives and determining what is in the best interest of the patients being cared for was most impressive,” he added.
The visit marks the second collaboration between Serbian and Wright-Patt personnel this year. In May, a delegation of chaplains met with 88th Air Base Wing counterparts to share practices for spiritual care in a military context.
“The long-term relationship between Ohio and Serbia has flowered into a more in-depth relationship where subject-matter experts across multiple specialties engage in knowledge exchanges and best practices,” Kennedy said.
“This enhances our understanding and postures us to be able to provide for our respective services and supported populations. This is especially significant in the medical sector as we have dealt with many of the same challenges over the past year.”