Sunday, May 06, 2007

Two-day mission provides medical care for about 550 Iraqis

By Spc. D. A. Dickinson

Mahmudiyah, Iraq -- After providing more than 330 Iraqi citizens with medical attention April 11, Soldiers from Fort Drum, N.Y., helped 217 more people the next day.
Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment and the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion, both from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, brought medical assistance and supplies to the people of Mamudiyah, Iraq. The previous day’s mission was carried out in Latifyah.
The missions were part of an effort to improve relations with the local Iraqi people, said 2nd Lt. Nicole McNish, executive officer for Headquarters Battery, 2-15 FA.
The units conduct such medical operations at least four times a month, said Spc. Cecilia Morales, a medic with Company C, Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div.
The clinic was set up at a local boys’ school with soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment of the Iraqi army assisting with security.
“Sometimes finding a good location can be a challenge,” said Capt. Ian McKenna, commander of HHB, 2-15 FA.
Having local medical providers is also an issue,” McKenna said. “There are a lot of problems that we can’t fix at a one-stop shop. We’re here, we can address the little things, but we can’t fix the long-term things like diabetes, hypertension or allergies.”
While McKenna acknowledged the shortcomings of the system, he was quick to praise the efforts of his Iraqi counterparts, such as Capt. Assad Muhammad Hamad, Headquarters and Service Company commander of 4-6.
“He’s a little guy with a big heart – the heart of a lion,” McKenna said. “We work well together with the Iraqi army, so security is not a big issue.”
McKenna said that he thinks some big changes will need to be made in order to see dramatic improvements in Iraq’s health care.
“It’s still good,” he said. “It shows the Iraqis are taking the lead.”
In spite of the disappointment of not being able to provide long-term solutions, Soldiers who participated in the mission had positive things to say about the end results.
“We helped 217 people today,” said Sgt. John Sniadecki, a radar operator and the commander of the relief for Mamudiyah Base Defense Operations Center.
Other medical personnel also expressed why they felt it was a success.
“I feel pretty good,” said Pfc. Lisa Doeker, a medic attached to HHB 2-15 FA. “It’s a nice way to give back to the Iraqi people. And it’s a nice change from trauma.”

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