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    NMRTC Bremerton staff reflect on Operation Allies Welcome

    Task Force Atterbury: Operation Allies Welcome Information

    Photo By Sgt. Trinity Carter | The federal government works around the clock screening and vetting vulnerable Afghans...... read more read more

    Navy Medical Service Corps, Nurse Corps, and Hospital Corps personnel recently returned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Bremerton after helping to support those in need.

    Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ferrell Jenkins was deployed to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, to support Afghan evacuees. As he was briefing his survey findings to other technicians, a young Afghan toddler -- wearing an oversized shirt -- walked over and took his hand. Humming a melody, she then began twirling herself like a ballet dancer.

    "She didn't speak English well. She just smiled as she went around and around like she was a ballerina from a music box. I joined in the game. She couldn't have been more than two or three. My son is two years old and does the same thing," said Jenkins.

    That personable interaction proved memorable for Jenkins, a Jacksonville, Florida native, during his time spent at the camp.

    Jenkins and other NMRTC Bremerton staff members were part of the approximately 420 Navy Medicine personnel who deployed in August in support of the Department of Homeland Security as part of Operation Allies Welcome. This operation fulfills the nation's commitment to its Afghan allies by providing immediate support and safety in the United States to Afghans evacuated from Afghanistan.

    Navy personnel worked alongside military members amongst all services, as well as interagency partners and non-governmental agencies, to provide transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for Afghan evacuees at four of eight Department of Defense installations within the United States used as safe havens -- Camp Atterbury, Indiana; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Fort Pickett, Virginia; and Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

    "Being there meant displaying the very core of our nation's responsibilities to those in need," Jenkins said. "This was why I joined in the first place. I felt proud to have demonstrated our commitment to our guests."

    Compiled statistics show that the United States has evacuated more than 84,000 people to the U.S. from Afghanistan, of which more than 76,000 are Afghan nationals.

    More than 6,500 Afghan nationals arrived at the camp in September, evacuated from their home, culture, and country almost half the world away.

    Jenkins' forte in public health needs was essential as a preventive medicine expert. He ensured all medical care was accomplished in a clean living environment safe from infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, salmonella, and influenza, commonly spread by droplets, insect bites, and contaminated surfaces.

    "Many of the guests were unable to bring necessities such as extra clothing and medicine with them," explained Jenkins. "Which left them vulnerable to climate and environmental stressors."

    Jenkins worked in the joint service setting to help establish public health-driven quality assurance and address guest issues.

    There was also the crucial public health responsibility to continue efforts to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

    "Ongoing pandemic protocol didn't hinder our efforts or cause communication to be awkward among our guests," stated Jenkins. "Nevertheless, we explained that measures are required for everyone's safety."

    A typical day for Jenkins involved health and wellness checks throughout the camp to prevent the spread of vector-borne diseases, food inspections, base sanitation control calculations, and reviews, as well as resiliency checks.

    "We would have various joint meetings with the other government agencies to report all findings. We helped lead the application based on what our Navy surgeon general had prioritized. We contributed as a ready medical force. What helped ensure our success with the mission was how our federal, state, and military agencies willingly worked together for our guests. Each agency sent personnel who wanted to help make a difference, which made this mission the most rewarding I've ever experienced," stated Jenkins, with several deployments and an individual augmentee assignment to his credit.

    For Navy Nurse Corps officer, Lt. j.g. Charles Rosenbusch, from Greenbrae, Calif., his deployment to Camp Atterbury provided validation for his career-defining decision to become a registered nurse (RN).

    "This type of deployment was very rewarding and is part of the reason for being a Navy nurse, [having] the ability to help others in their time of need," said Rosenbusch, who began his military career enlisting in the Marine Corps in 2008.

    "I deployed twice while in the Marine Corps, once to Afghanistan and one as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. This experience was very different," continued Rosenbusch. "In those [deployments], I had several months of notice and a defined timeline for returning home. With this deployment, I had limited notice and no defined timeline for return, which made the deployment more challenging."

    Rosenbusch handled such nursing duties as setting up and managing clinic space, performing laboratory draws on those ages two and up, and helping with vaccinations, even to some as young as six months.

    Providing the requisite medical care for the incoming guests meant all supporting agencies pitching in to quickly establish the necessary foundation capable of caring for the incoming guests.

    "Our efforts were needed to assist in getting this evolution off the ground," Rosenbusch said.

    Lt. Nathan Johnson, Navy Medical Service Corps officer from Bigfork, Montana, spent over two months at Camp Atterbury immersed in various assignments as the deputy patient administration officer. From patient tracking to assist nurses with the patient flow to helping fix minor information system issues, Johnson was actively engaged in multiple medical support needs.

    As a veteran of several individual augmentee deployments, Johnson readily observed how different this experience was.

    "This was by far the most unique experience I have had on deployment," explained Johnson. "All of my other deployments have been in a time of war. However, this deployment felt more like a time of peace."

    Johnson also echoed the sentiments of others during his time supporting Operation Allies Welcome.

    "This was rewarding knowing that I was assisting someone in their journey to America. So many of the guests were extremely thankful to get through the medical screening, as they knew that it was one of their first steps toward that goal. Just knowing that I was a part of helping over 6,500 people on that journey was extremely rewarding," Johnson stated.

    In a letter to NMRTC Bremerton leadership, Navy Capt. Luke Zabrocki, Joint Task Force Surgeon and officer in charge of the Afghan Reception Team for Operation Allies Welcome at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, wrote of his appreciation for the professionalism provided by those deployed.

    "Your personnel did amazing work in support of a very challenging mission. It was a daunting task to set up a comprehensive medical system from scratch for an evacuee camp of this size and in such a rapid fashion. Our efforts would not have been successful without the talent and dedication of Lt. Johnson, Lt. j.g. Rosenbusch, and HM1 Jenkins,” wrote Zabrocki.



    Date Taken: 01.14.2022
    Date Posted: 01.14.2022 09:57
    Story ID: 412910
    Location: CAMP ATTERBURY, IN, US 

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