War on Terrorism

Monday, March 30, 2009

On the Ground: Troops Provide Medical Care, Necessities to Afghans

American Forces Press Service

March 30, 2009 - Even as coalition and Afghan forces try to stamp out violent extremism in Afghanistan, troops also work to provide a better life for the people who live there. U.S servicemembers worked alongside Afghan soldiers in recent days to deliver medical treatment to more than 1,300 villagers in several southern and western provinces in one operation, while in another, they distributed food, clothing and other basic supplies to a nomadic family.

"The humanitarian aid missions help build a positive view of Americans and an understanding that we are here to help make the Afghans' lives better," Army Staff Sgt. Dwayne Hood, a forward observer attached to the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade, 71st Cavalry Regiment, said after distributing clothes, food and blankets to the family. "Hopefully, we get to continue doing missions like this and helping more families."

Hood was on patrol with other soldiers along the foothills near Forward Operating Base Altimur in Afghanistan's eastern province of Logar on March 25 when they came across the family, part of the nomadic Kuchi tribe. After talking with them, the soldiers found the family had a few basic needs, which they could supply.

Blankets, clothes and food were pulled from the trunk of the vehicle as the family looked on, smiling. The soldiers also brought gifts for the children in the form of two soccer balls. The family offered repeated thanks to the soldiers.

"It's really all about bettering their life out here," Hood said.

Meanwhile, U.S. special operations forces set up clinics in the southern and western provinces of Farah, Helmand and Heart provinces, where they, alongside Afghan military and civilian health care workers, treated more than 1,300 men, women and children who gathered for medical and dental care.

The Afghans traveled from near and far to visit the clinics, bringing with them an array of ailments and injuries. One elderly man was all smiles after he had two painful teeth removed by the dental team in Heart's Shindand district. Also in Shindand, a small child with a burned foot and a young man with a dog bite were among many who found relief from a doctor with the Afghan army's commando team. Another man came to the clinic seeking follow-up care after undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound.

The clinics open their doors multiple times throughout the week, welcoming Afghans who otherwise would find no relief from the medical hardships they face.

"The Afghan National Army's commandos and soldiers are taking the lead in Afghanistan's health care. The welfare of the Afghan people is uppermost in the minds of the country's security forces," said Maj. Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi.

(Compiled from joint U.S. Forces Afghanistan/Afghan Defense Ministry and Combined Joint Task Force 101 news releases. Army Spc. Matthew Thompson of the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment contributed to this report.)

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