News: Civil Military Operations Center provides Iraqis with basic care
By the Multi-National Division - Central
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – "Everyday you come in here and say, 'What great stuff are we going to do today?'" said Lt. Col. Daniel Pritchard, Company A, 411th Civil Affairs Battalion. "Little bit by little bit, we are making an impact."
Pritchard is the officer-in-charge of the Civil Military Operations Center, a multi-purpose facility located on Camp Striker that offers medical treatment to between 40 to 60 Iraqis daily.
"This is just a clinic for basic care," said Dr. Yousif Hammid, CMOC director. "We receive special cases that need higher medical attention on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes, special cases are arranged for more intensive medical care in other countries such as the U.S., Jordan and Germany, to name a few."
Hammid is a doctor of veterinary medicine, with a Master's Degree in Public Health from Baghdad University.
"I understand what the people need, what care, what diseases they have and what we can do to help them."
Some of the illnesses typically seen are diarrhea (caused by the untreated drinking water), tuberculosis and others caused by exposure to infected animals.
Iraqi medical personnel provide care for the Iraqi visitors to the CMOC.
"We have two Iraqi doctors from the Iraqi Army," said Pritchard. "We also have some bi-lingual, bi-cultural aides to assist the doctors. The IA doctors are the hardest working people here."
"Tonight is my day off, but it is more exciting to serve the people here," said IA 1st Lt. Baydaq F. Abdazeez, a general practitioner physician with Iraqi Ground Forces Command who volunteers at the CMOC. "This was a hot area, so there [was] no family care or clinics for these people. I'm proud to serve my people, they need care. This is a way to reflect that the IA is not only for fighting, but to help the [Iraqi] people."
According to Pritchard, the CMOC is officially run by the U.S. Army, but volunteers from all the U.S. military branches can be seen helping out at the center.
"We have U.S. military personnel who don't work here, but volunteer to come in from time-to-time to examine extraordinary cases," said Pritchard, a native of Highland Falls, N.Y.
One such case is Air Force chaplain Capt. David Knight, a native of Chattanooga, Tenn. Knight heard about the CMOC and wanted to know what he could do to help.
A list of needed medical supplies was drawn up, and Knight's wife, Stacy, contacted about 150 friends and Family members, who got together and gathered much needed supplies for the Iraqis.
Knight delivered 220 boxes of pharmaceutical supplies (about $20,000 worth) from the U.S.
"They are sowing the seeds of generosity; people want to give and give," said Knight.
Airmen from the 447th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron are donating their free time to painting the walls, resurfacing the floors and making electrical repairs to the CMOC.
"Regardless of why we are here, what we as individuals can do is to reach out and help others," said Air Force Master Sgt. Andree Burdette-Newman, a heating and air-conditioning technician from Reno, Nev. "I can leave something behind that no one can take away from me – we are ambassadors that [Iraqis] see here helping."
Although the military provides improvements and oversees the center, supplies are not plentiful. The CMOC would benefit greatly from donated supplies from the U.S.
"Children's vitamins are a big thing, and basically over-the-counter type medicines are needed," Pritchard added.
"All Iraqi medicines are made in China, Jordan, Syria, etc.," Hammid said, adding that they are specifically looking for drugs to treat diabetes, high-blood pressure and tuberculosis. "They are not as good as U.S. medicines. We are very happy with these drugs and can always use more
The CMOC staff does not perform surgeries on site, but can help Iraqis find the care they need.
"If surgery is required, [Iraqi citizens] are referred to the National Iraqi Assistance Center," Pritchard said.
Families that visit the CMOC are given "gift" bags made up of vitamins, diapers, soap, aspirin and anti-biotics.
In addition to medical care, a variety of programs and services are available to Iraqi citizens at the CMOC. Local citizens can file claims, apply for micro-grants and access a database with information on detainees.
Iraqis can also attend classes on dental hygiene, pregnancy and child care.
"It is a good thing to help the Iraqi people," Hammid said.
The CMOC is open six days a week, Saturday through Thursday.