News: Stryker medics deliver aid through understanding
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - When Pvt. Liliana Nunez joined the Army in 2009 with the hopes of being a combat medic, she had one goal in mind: help save the lives of the men and women defending her freedom.
After deploying to Afghanistan with the 25th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and 25th Infantry Division earlier this year, the Brownsville, Texas, native, and her fellow medics from the 25th BSB sprang into action providing care to a number of sick and injured soldiers.
But that wasn’t enough for the 25th BSB, medics who sought to bring a healthier lifestyle not only to U.S. forces but to Afghan women and children as well.
In order to reach the Afghan women and their children, the 1-25th SBCT medics opened their doors and their minds to start a regularly scheduled Kandahar Regional Military Hospital women's and children’s health clinic.
“Our goal is to help train the Afghan National Army midwifes and to help improve the overall health of the Afghan women and children,” said Capt. Marilyn Cowles, physician assistant and Anchorage, Alaska, native assigned to the 25th BSB. “We are trying to get them to have faith in their own medical system.”
“It’s interesting to go out and get a closer view of their culture,” Nunez said. “It’s something that you would want to do again and again.”
Twice a week local villagers gather at a local forward operating base and are shown ways of promoting better health in women and children through a number of hands-on training events.
“It’s important educational training that aids in diagnosing and treating injuries,” Cowles said.
Once trained, the midwives can better treat things like pregnancies and other overall health issues, according to Cowles.
She said the medical staff, with help from their Bulgarian military counterparts, also began efforts to improving the Afghans’ ability to conduct ultrasounds.
“It’s a slow going process but it’s improving and that’s what matters,” Cowles said. “[Medical programs] continue to be beneficial to bridging woman’s healthcare with their cultural beliefs.”
Medical outreach programs dedicated to the Afghan people have become an important part of life in Afghanistan and serve as a reminder that as the war continues so does the growing positive relationship between U.S. and Afghan forces.
“We have established a very good working with Afghan Army’s 205 Kandak,” said Lt. Col. Barnett Gibbs, physician to the 25th BSB. “We are successfully improving their ability [to take] care of themselves.”