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News | Sept. 20, 2013

Joint Task Force-Bravo brings medical care to more than 800 in Honduras

By Capt. Zach Anderson Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Members of Joint Task Force-Bravo partnered with the Honduran Ministry of Health to provide medical care to more than 800 people in the remote villages of Usibila and Raya in the Gracias a Dios region of Honduras during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE), Sept. 18-19.

"MEDRETES allow us to maintain our expeditionary capability while also assisting the Honduran government in meeting some of the health care needs of its people," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Tompkins, Medical Operations director. "We are able to work together with our host nation counterparts to bring care to a part of the country where medical care is not readily available."

Medical staff from JTF-Bravo provided 820 people with classes on preventative medical care, including instruction on proper hygiene and nutrition. They also provided dental care, well-being checkups, basic immunizations and medications, and performed several minor medical procedures.

"An operation like this serves to strengthen the relationship we have with our host nation and show that we truly care about the well-being of the people of this country," said Tompkins. "These MEDRETES are a way we can give back to our host country while at the same time confirming our own capability to respond to disasters or humanitarian assistance missions."

In addition to the routine medical care, members of JTF-Bravo were confronted with two serious trauma cases and arranged for both patients to be medically evacuated from the area to receive advanced medical care.

"The fact that we were there to be able to provide emergency medical care and medivac these two patients is proof of the type of difference we can make. Our medical experts did their jobs as the true professionals they are, and in doing so, quite possibly saved two lives in the process," said Tompkins.

JTF-Bravo Medical Element commander, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Huy Q. Luu, MD, said MEDRETES are beneficial for both the JTF-Bravo Medical Element as well as the people of Honduras.

"MEDRETEs allow us to assist the Minister of Health to provide care to the Honduran patients that live in remote areas and have limited access to care. Additionally, these missions allow our servicemembers to enhance their skills and be able to operate in an austere environment," said Luu. "They are critical in maintaining our operational readiness as well as continuing to foster a strong international relationship with our host country."

Joint Task Force-Bravo conducts MEDRETES throughout Central America each year in support of U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian and disaster relief programs in order to strengthen civil-military cooperation between the United States and nations in the region. In coordination with the Offices of Security Cooperation and partner nation Department of Health officials in all seven Central American countries, JTF-Bravo treated more than 11,000 patients last year.