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News | Jan. 9, 2013

JTF-B Guatemala MEDRETE a huge success

By Staff Sgt. Eric Donner Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Servicemembers from Joint Task Force-Bravo with assistance from the United States Embassy in Guatemala, the Guatemala Ministry of Health and the Guatemalan Army, completed a four-day Medical Readiness Training Exercise in Chiquimula, Guatemala December 11-15, 2012.

JTF-B members along with the Guatemalan Army and Ministry of Health prepared and set up a temporary dental and medical clinic in a centralized area to help educate residents on personal hygiene and provide basic medical and dental services.

"We anticipated 500 patients a day, but we far exceeded that number," said Col. (Dr.) Cathy Joseph, JTF-B dentist.

During the four-day exercise the JTF-Bravo team and preventative medicine specialists from the Guatemalan Ministry of Health educated, screened and treated more than 2,500 patients, distributed more than 1,400 prescriptions and extracted 290 teeth.

"The cooperation between the translators and all the Guatemalan doctors made the MEDRETE a success," said Maj. (Dr.) Robert Jones, JTF-Bravo flight surgeon. "The people were very appreciative of the service we were providing."

JTF-Bravo conducts MEDRETEs throughout Central America each year in support of U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief programs to build civil-military cooperation between the U.S. and nations in the region. Working together with a focus on enabling the host nation's ability to provide medical and dental assistance as well as other support to their citizens, the U.S. has the opportunity to empower governments and build their self-sufficiency. Additionally, MEDRETEs give JTF-Bravo the opportunity to exercise its expeditionary medical and mission command capabilities.

"The MEDRETE went really well," added Joseph. "A lot of the success is due to the cooperation between the Guatemalan Military and Ministry of Health. They provided a lot of people to help out. Their help and partnership greatly increased the capabilities of the team and success of the exercise."