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Not Your Average Captain

U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Macheel, a medical provider with the 133rd Medical Group, poses for a photo in Lares, Puerto Rico, April 30, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Macheel, a medical provider with the 133rd Medical Group, poses for a photo in Lares, Puerto Rico, April 30, 2019. Macheel is at one of the six Innovative Readiness Training sites which aim to provide hands-on, mission-essential training while simultaneously providing health care to communities in the U.S. and its territories. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Abbott, an optometrist technician with the 335th Area Support Medical Company, 49th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, learns how to suture from U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Macheel, a medical provider with the 133rd Medical Group, in Lares, Puerto Rico, May 2, 2019.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Abbott, an optometrist technician with the 335th Area Support Medical Company, 49th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, learns how to suture from U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Macheel, a medical provider with the 133rd Medical Group, in Lares, Puerto Rico, May 2, 2019. Abbott and Macheel are at one of the six Innovative Readiness Training sites which aim to provide hands-on, mission-essential training while simultaneously providing health care to communities in the U.S. and its territories. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Macheel, a medical provider with the 133rd Medical Group, checks the pulse of patients in Lares, Puerto Rico, April 30, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Macheel, a medical provider with the 133rd Medical Group, checks the pulse of patients in Lares, Puerto Rico, April 30, 2019. Macheel is at one of the six Innovative Readiness Training sites which aim to provide hands-on, mission-essential training while simultaneously providing health care to communities in the U.S. and its territories. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren)

Lares, Puerto Rico – Sitting at a table, with a military translator, U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Macheel, a medical provider with the 133rd Medical Group, St. Paul, Minn., listens intently to a patient’s medical history while on an Innovative Readiness Training mission in Lares, Puerto Rico.

At first glance, Macheel comes across as a seasoned officer. An outside observer would not expect that he received his commission a little over a year ago. Macheel said that when life and education allowed, he started the process of joining the Air National Guard.

“I have been considering joining the U.S. Air Force since high school,” said Macheel. “I decided, instead of going into the Air Force, to go right into college. We didn’t have anyone in my family that had graduated from college before. As the oldest kid in my family, I felt it was my obligation to make sure that it happened,” said Macheel.

Outside the military, Macheel can be found working as a trauma nurse practitioner or practicing his advanced practice provider skills in a general surgery environment. The range of patients Macheel might encounter range from severe falls to traumatic injuries such as gunshot wounds.

“As a nurse practitioner, you have to often practice independently and make difficult decisions,” said Macheel as he reflects on his civilian career. “With that responsibility, comes the need to direct nursing and other staff to accomplish the care that is necessary for patients,” said Macheel.

Macheel's hard work has not gone unnoticed by his peers in the 133rd Medical Group. Since his commissioning, Macheel took a leadership role in education and training with the group and has not stopped contributing his time and talent with the military.

“Capt. Macheel has been with the unit for a short amount of time and within that time has gained the confidence and respect of his peers,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Kevin Dornan, 133rd Medical Group. “Right now, he is the medical group’s officer in charge at the Lares, Puerto Rico Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) site. His job is to ensure that the flow of patients is smooth and the patients are properly treated for by the medical staff.”

During their time in Puerto Rico, the medical teams are provided with hands-on, mission-essential training while simultaneously providing health care to communities in underserved locations around the island.

As a newly commissioned Captain, Macheel does not have years of experience often afforded to someone with his rank. It can be particularly tricky for medical officers who are new to the military to adapt to their positions.

“What surprises me more is, he has the feel of having prior military experience, but he does not,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Kern, 133rd Medical Group. “He is a natural leader, excellent officer, does not sweat the details and gets the job done.”

When looking back at joining the Air National Guard, Macheel said he is grateful for the experiences he has already had.

“When I came in, there were a lot of provider slots open,” said Macheel. “I think it was just by chance I was looking, and they were needing at the same time.”

Sitting at the table, Macheel checks the pulse of a patient. With the help of the military translator, he shares his assessments with the patient. After the examination is complete, the patient thanks Macheel for his service. As the patient moves to their next treatment area, Macheel welcomes his next patient and starts their exam.