NEWS | April 1, 2015

Joint Task Force-Bravo brings medical care to 973 people in Raya, Honduras

By U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Jason Tedesco Joint Task Force-Bravo, Medical Element

Joint Task Force Bravo's Medical Element, Joint Security Forces, and 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment partnered with the Honduran Ministry of Health and the Honduran Military to provide medical care to 973 people over two days in Raya, a remote area on the coastline in the Gracias a Dios region of Honduras during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE), March 23-26.

"This was the first time I have experienced working with American soldiers. I was prepared and thrilled to be able to help out the people of Raya with information about how to help prevent disease. This was a very memorable experience for me and I look forward to working on future missions with Joint Task Force-Bravo," said Honduran Army Sgt. Olman Flores, Preventive Medicine personnel.

The care for the patients included classes on hygiene, nutrition and preventive dental care. MEDEL, along with our Honduran partners, also provided dental care, wellness checkups, and medications as well as performed some minor medical procedures.

JTF-Bravo was able to work together in the successful execution of the MEDRETE that was planned for months in advance by 1st Lt. Lindsay Wilson, the MEDRETE officer in-charge.

"There are so many moving parts and the communication between all the parties involved made this mission very successful," said Wilson.

"The people I worked with on this exercise were very nice and helpful," said Honduran Air Force 1st Lt. Julio Cesar Gutierrez Gullien. "Being a part of the medical brigade has helped me use the skills I know and make new friendships with my counterparts. To help improve the quality of life for the people of Raya during this exercise was very rewarding."

The remote location of the MEDRETE was not the only challenge the participants overcame. In Raya the predominant language is Miskito, not Spanish, but MEDEL and our Honduran counterparts were able to bridge the language gaps by switching from English to Spanish to Miskito and back.

"We are grateful to the Honduran teachers, doctors and civilians took the time out of their schedules to assist us in providing some much-needed health care during this joint exercise to the people of Raya," said U.S. Army Sgt. Benjamin Gilmore, Preventive Medicine non-commissioned officer.

MEDEL is made up of 65 Army personnel who have come together from all over the United States. MEDEL provides preventive medical care, wellness checkups, dental care, preventive dental care, surgical care and physical therapy through local partnerships in Comayagua and through Medical Readiness Training Exercises which are carried out on a weekly basis.

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.