Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 17 Nov 2007

From MNF-I, 1,000 Iraqi Patients Seen During Medical Mission.

AS SANAWAH — Working side by side with the Iraqi Army (IA), Coalition forces recently provided medical assistance to more than 1,000 people in the Albu Ewhaid Village on the outskirts of As Sanawah.

“I think it went great. Our providers were working side by side with Iraqi Army doctors and medics to provide the proper medical care to the people in the village,” said Capt. Assad Raza, a Fontana, Ca. native and the 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 82nd Airborne Division medical planner.

The event showed the villagers and the IA 1st BCT’s commitment to serving their medical needs.

“This is the first cooperative medical engagement (CME) we have done as a brigade since we got to Iraq and it was a dynamic event,” said Doctor (Maj.) Michael Tarpey, a Chicago, Ill. native and the brigade surgeon for 1st BCT.

Due to the remote location of the village, limited medical care has been available to its citizens in the past.

“I think we helped them out tremendously, because in some of the locations within our joint operations area some families hadn’t received any medical care in a long time,” said Sgt. 1st Class Vincent T. Johnson, an Atlanta, Ga. native and senior healthcare non-commissioned officer in charge for 1st BCT.

In addition to the medical care provided, Iraqi Soldiers were handing out water, blankets and toys to patients. Coalition forces were also giving out items that would help the people feel comfortable.

“We also provided some of the children with shoes, clothing, toys, food, water and a number of things that would make their lives a little bit easier,” said Johnson.

They also had a number of wheelchairs for patients who needed them.

“We offered and handed out a number of wheelchairs and I’m sure that helped them out because we had a few people who had to be carried in by family members,” said Johnson.

This well-orchestrated event by the IA, Muthanna Provincial Reconstruction Team and Coalition forces benefited the populace while creating a greater bond of fellowship and trust.

“We provided comprehensive medical care to the indigenous people and we also had the opportunity to win the hearts and minds of the people in that particular area,” said Johnson.

The IA might not have the best equipment or materials, but they have the motivation and determination to care for their people.

“They have the will to give the proper care to the community… there is progress, but there is still room for improvement,” said Raza.

While several organizations were involved in the planning, gathering of supplies and execution of the CME, the IA was in the lead because they wanted to provide the essential treatment for their citizens.

“The Iraqi Army was the main presence there and the base of the event for the people. Not to mention the real significant contribution they made to the command and control for the security of the event and the provision of medical care,” said Tarpey.

Although the CME required hard work by all involved, being able to treat families and see them smile was the ultimate reward.

“It was a great day to be a medic. I don’t know when we will have another one (CME), but I hope the command sees this as an asset and puts more on the calendar,” said Johnson.