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    Brave Rifles medical officer ensures Afghan medical facilities are sustainable



    Story by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston 

    U.S. Forces Afghanistan

    LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The potent smell of epoxy and fresh paint filled the corridors of the newly built Gamberi Regional Military Hospital located in Laghman province, Afghanistan.

    Going from room to room, leaving no stone unturned, Army Capt. Katherine Zamperini scrupulously verified medical equipment with a master list containing every contracted item to be turned over to the Afghan National Army.

    Zamperini serves as a senior medical advisor for the 203rd Corps, ANA, and squadron surgeon for 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and serves in many other medical roles in Afghanistan.

    “I’m an Army doctor, and that is my number one job here in Afghanistan,” Zamperini said. “From the 18-year-old youngsters to the general, I make sure they have quality care.”

    Zamperini also advises Afghan Brig. Gen. Gulab Shah, who serves with the ANA’s 201st Corps and is the commander of the hospital in Gamberi. She serves as an advocate for the hospital, ensuring the facility and its equipment are up to Afghan standards.

    “We’re not building an American hospital, we’re making an Afghan hospital, and it’s my goal to leave a sustainable facility, and something they’ll love and appreciate,” Zamperini said. “To do that, I have to rely on the resources that are available to me and keep the ball rolling while maintaining a high standard.”

    “I’m also an acting contract officer representative, which means I’m the face of the facility and equipment contract. So I can really get fired up about things sometimes because I want to make sure that we leave the Afghans with equipment that they can not only use, but sustain,” Zamperini said. “This facility some day is going to be used to treat people, and they’re really going to need that equipment to work. So I get equipment specialists to come down here (to Gamberi) who are trained to ensure that the equipment we get from contractors is adequate.”

    Earlier in her deployment, Zamperini was stationed at Forward Operating Base Lightning near the 203rd Corp’s headquarters. There she was heavily involved in advising Afghan Brig. Gen. Asif Bromand, and Col. Ackbari, both of whom serve as doctors with the ANA’s 203rd Corps. Simultaneously, she provided oversight to a 50-room addition in the Paktia Regional Military Hospital.

    “The Paktia hospital was already high functioning, but the added rooms were really needed there,” Zamperini said. “They have been taking trauma patients every day since the elections, and some days three or four.”

    Once the 50 rooms were completed in the Paktia facility and her counterparts were prepared to conduct medical operations on their own, she moved to FOB Gamberi to advise from a distance.
    “Every so often we go back to Paktia on what we call ‘fly to advise missions,’ and we’ve let them know that we’re here in case they need us and we maintain contact through phone calls and email,” Zamperini said. “They’re performing their trauma care competently, they just need to gain confidence in themselves, and providing support from a distance will allow them to grow in confidence.”

    Caring for Afghans and Soldiers is really important to Zamperini. She said that caring for people who are nobly dedicated to their country is an easy task for her. That passion for her work helps her to complete her hefty tasks as a doctor and adviser.

    “Captain Zamperini is extremely passionate about being a Soldier and an advisor,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Howell, a Statesville, North Carolina, native who serves as Zamperini’s supervisor and officer in charge for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment’s Military Advisory Team.

    “Couple that with her expert medical skills as a doctor, and you have someone ideally suited for this mission. She always comes up with a creative solution to complex problems.”

    Among many duties, Zamperini also leads a team of medics who serve alongside her at the Role 1 medical facility on FOB Gamberi. Her interest in Soldier care radiates to her patients through her Soldiers.

    “She always shows up to work with drive and motivation, and that motivation rubs off on us. Everything captain Zamperini does here helps us perform better,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Aquino, a San Diego native who serves as platoon sergeant with 1st Sqdn., 3rd Cav. Regt. “I saw her passion at FOB Lightning, and I see it here in Gamberi. She takes things seriously and if she can take things to a higher level to get the job done, she will.”

    Zamperini described herself as an “Army brat” who traveled all over the world with her family, which broadened the way she views the world. Her father, Mark, was an artillery officer and her mother, Carol, was a teacher.

    “My parents lives were dedicated to service and teaching,” Zamperini said, “and that’s what I’m trying to do here: teach through service.”

    Zamperini understands that growth comes from stepping outside your comfort zone, and instead of taking a six-month deployment like military physicians generally commit to because of their robust duties, she chose to serve a full year in Afghanistan.

    “I just feel like it’s important to give back and take some time away to appreciate those things that we take for granted,” Zamperini said. “I really wanted the experience as well, and although I think it will be one of the most frustrating things that I’ve ever done, it will also be one of the best things I’ve ever done. There are just too many wonderful life experiences that you get being affiliated with the military that you can’t get anywhere else.”



    Date Taken: 11.27.2014
    Date Posted: 11.27.2014 01:51
    Story ID: 148989
    Location: AF
    Hometown: FORT HOOD, TX, US
    Hometown: FORT LEWIS, WA, US

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