News: Cavalry troopers show support for injured civilians
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq — On Aug. 20, Lt. Col. Cameron Cantlon, commander of 6th ‘Saber’ Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and an Ettrick, Wis. native and Capt. Michael De La Vega the Squadron Physician’s assistant, and a San Antonio, Texas native visited Al Zahraa Hospital on the Northeast side of Al Kut. They stopped by the hospital to speak with hospital officials about the attacks on Aug. 15, express condolences to the injured and loved ones, and offer general medical advice. On Aug. 15, the spotlight was on this hospital as it had to respond to attacks that killed 34 Iraqi civilians and wounded 70 more.
‘Saber’ Squadron’s mission has been to advise and assist government and security officials in Al Kut since June 11. Leaders throughout the squadron have worked closely with Iraqi Army, Federal Police, and Iraqi Police around the city to evaluate their needs and improve their ability to provide security for its citizens, but this was the first time they traveled to any of the hospitals. Al Zahraa Hospital is truly a reflection of how hard the officials of Al Kut worked to bring their city to a higher standard.
The attack in Al Kut, Aug. 15 tested the resolve of the entire city. The hospital’s facilities were clean, and the staff were excited and enthusiastic to speak with Capt. De La Vega about their response to the attacks, treatment options of each patient, and what their medical capabilities are.
Four doctors guided Cantlon and De La Vega into several rooms explaining the injuries of each patient, their stories, and what had been done to treat them. Each patient shared their stories with the U.S. soldiers, but they were also adamant about showing confidence in their medical capabilities and pride in their city’s ability to bounce back from the event.
“It’s obvious these doctors have a lot of passion and truly care about their city and their patients. It is truly rewarding assisting those that have a passion to help their country,” said De La Vega of the staff at the hospital.
As soon as the Iraqi doctors shook hands with the physician’s assistant, they shared their experiences with him. Many of the doctors trained abroad in India or Jordan, but they had all come back to their native city of Al Kut to practice medicine. Each of them had certain specialties, but while meeting with each of their patients, they shared a common compassion and competence in their treatment.
“The attacks on Aug. 15 would have been difficult for any American city to go through. This hospital and the professional doctors on staff typify the current medical support in Al Kut and Wasit province. They have done a remarkable job under very challenging conditions— I am Impressed,” said Cantlon.