Spec Ops in the Freedom Wing

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kimberly Lalley
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

Maj. Daniel Toocheck is an optometrist assigned to the 514th Aerospace Medicine Squadron with the 514th Air Mobility Wing located in Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Since he’s been a Reserve Citizen Airman, he has supported multiple Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) medical missions.


IRTs are joint-training missions that increase deployment readiness while providing key services (health care, construction, transportation, and cybersecurity) while making a difference in American communities.  Toocheck has performed seven medical IRTs in the last eight years in communities across the U.S.


Toocheck is serving as the officer in charge of optometry at the east central Georgia IRT.  Currently, more than 130 service members from the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy Reserve are providing no-cost dental care, health checks and eye exams at five locations in east central Georgia. 


“It’s very useful for training, learning to deal with other services, and the patient’s care, which reinforces what we’re doing in the civilian world,” said Toocheck.


As a civilian optometrist, Toocheck has worked on numerous humanitarian missions.  Discovering the military had IRT missions swayed him to join the Air Force Reserve.  His first IRT was Tropic Care in Kaui, Hawaii and there he got indoctrinated in mission procedures before he went on to commission through Reserve Commission Officer Training.


Since commissioning, he’s supported an IRT every year. He always expects field conditions and never knows where he’ll end up.  For Arctic Care he worked on the island of Kodiak and stayed at a U.S. Coast Guard Base.  Other times he worked out of tents.


“There are no guarantees. You can go back to the same location and it will be different,” said Toocheck.


In addition to supporting seven IRT missions, he’s also ran marathons on all seven continents.  He joined the Air Force Reserve because he wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself.  His dad was a Korean War Vet and his brother joined the Army and later transitioned to the Air Force Reserve.