By Sgt. Jason Stadel, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 1, 2008 - Working with Iraqi civilian and U.S. military medical personnel, coalition forces in Busayefi, Iraq, hosted a combined medical engagement March 29. "We just came into this area, and we're trying to build a relationship with the people," said Army 2nd Lt. Josh Duke, medical platoon leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment.
More than 260 Busayefi residents, including 115 children, were treated at the makeshift health clinic for aches, pains, rashes, nausea and other minor illnesses. They were seen by one of two U.S. Army doctors or two Iraqi civilian doctors.
Busayefi is an area once dominated by al Qaeda in Iraq. Roadside bombs made travel to larger communities with medical facilities difficult. In late December, coalition and Iraqi forces began clearing the area of al Qaeda operatives and other extremists and started a "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group. Security in the area continues to improve with the Sons of Iraq and coalition presence.
It had been years since some of the residents had seen a doctor. One man said he hadn't seen a doctor in 10 years, and was grateful for the medical aid.
"Not only do we try and help them with their illnesses, we also try and identify the overall health of the area," Duke said. "We can also identify if there is a person in need of serious medical help."
A medic from Company A, 415th Civil Affairs Battalion, currently attached to the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said the combined medical engagement helps give civil affairs teams an overall health assessment of the area.
"We can learn about the health and welfare of the children as well as the families and the area," Army Sgt. Charles Howell said. "This also lets the people know that we do care about them."
Howell said the first step in rebuilding Iraq is developing a strong relationship with the community, and that the medical engagements are one way to strengthen ties between coalition forces and local citizens.
"We're all here for one common goal, and that is to make Iraq better," Howell said.
(Army Sgt. Jason Stadel serves with the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)