News: “Task Force Tropic” medics help Hondurans
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Walter Van Ochten
COFRADIA CORTES, Honduras -As loud music is playing over the PA system and a clown works hard to keep the young children entertained, for their parents and other’s the serious business of health care is underway. In small rooms just off to the sides of the children’s party atmosphere, patients are being seen by medical professionals.
Soldiers from joint “Task Force Tropic”, commanded By LT. Col. Robert L. Jones, are in Honduras to support “Beyond the Horizon 2012". They helped local Honduran medical staff provide basic health care to citizens of Cofradia, Cortes, on April 21.
The Medics are United States Army Reserve soldiers from Detachment-1 and Bravo Company, 441st Ground Ambulance, 176th Combat Support Hospital, headquartered in Dallas, and the 452nd Combat Support Hospital, 330th Medical Brigade, headquartered in Milwaukee. They’re here with BTH on their two week annual training. They are assigned to staff the Battalion Aid Station and work site Ambulances.
Later rotational “Task Force Tropic” AT soldiers, will be conducting two Medical Readiness Training Exercises and one Dental Readiness Training Exercise, both of which provide health services to locals so the soldiers can sharpen their medical skills and help out the Honduran people in communities that need it.
The Reserve soldiers here now took advantage of a chance to work with the Honduran army’s’ 105th Infantry brigade, to get additional training beyond their normal duties. They helped in a free community event called “Medical Brigade of the Armed Forces," sponsored by the Honduran Army.
“This was a great opportunity that kind of just fell in our laps” said Capt. John Hruska, BTH Medical Planner, 932 Field Surgical Hospital, 807th Medical Command, who will be supporting the mission for its duration. “We just found out about it a couple of days ago and I’m glad we did. Typically we’re the ones that provide the doctors, medics and medicines and they support us with additional personnel. With this it’s reversed, they provide the medical service with their doctors and medicines and we get to support them with the extra help. This demonstrates how we are working as a partnership for the benefit of the Honduran people.“
The “Medical Brigade of the Armed Forces” is a Honduran nation wide initiative that happens four times a year providing general medical treatment, podiatrists, dental, obstetrician, gynecological, pharmaceutical and pediatrics to areas in need of such services.
“They have treated a half million people over the last couple of years, is what they told me, so they do these type of events quite frequently” said Capt. Thaddeus Wiitanen, BTH officer in charge of the Battalion Aid Station, 452nd Combat Support Hospital, 330th Medical Brigade, who hails from Appleton, Wisconsin.
At the end of the day, after the music stopped and the clown left, the soldiers of the BTH worked with Honduran medical providers giving badly needed medical care to hundreds as well as legal assistance, donated clothing, even a haircut.
BTH 2012 is an Army South exercise deploying military engineers and medical professionals in partnership with Honduras to conduct various medical, dental and civic action programs, providing focused humanitarian assistance.