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    Medical initiative brings hope to isolated communities

    SANGIN DISTRICT, HELMAND PROVINCE, , AFGHANISTAN

    12.15.2011

    Story by Cpl. James Clark 

    Regimental Combat Team 8

    SANGIN DISTRICT, Helmand province, Afghanistan - Nearly 100 civilians crowded the small dusty road outside of Patrol Base Florida, in the Sangin District, Dec. 2. Some had traveled by taxi from far off villages, having heard through word of mouth that the Marines and Afghan forces with 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, would be holding a medical initiative, or temporary clinic, that day.

    The event was aimed at bringing Navy corpsmen with Alpha Company into contact with a local doctor, in order to assess his performance, provide assistance and guidance, and perhaps most importantly, medical supplies.

    Meeting with 62 patients, and assessing a range of symptoms from the common cold and flu, to general weakness attributed to malnutrition, brought to light the bitter reality of those forced to grow up in an environment without an efficient health care system, explained Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Stavros, a Navy corpsman, from Grandville, Mich., and a 2000 graduate of Grandville High school.

    “We're so used to America having a great health care that it's really eye opening to see what they live with,” said Stavros. “Overall it was a good experience, both for me and the community. They were pretty receptive to us because we have a good reputation with the civilian populace in this area. So they're very open to treatment.”

    Working with his Afghan counterpart, Stavros served as a facilitator during the meetings, offering his guidance when appropriate and providing medicine when necessary.

    “It's good for them to see us working with him,” said Stavros, adding intentions of holding another initiative later on, aiming at providing medical treatment to the women of the area, who refuse to attend due to the number of men present.

    Initiatives like this strengthen what institutions the area already has in place, explained Sgt. Aaron Haubert, a civil affairs team chief from Arlington, Va., and a 2010 college graduate of University of Mary Washington.

    “The local doctor is where people go for treatment,” said Haubert. “If we can help him improve the quality of care within the community it will make it easier on the local populace, as they won’t have to travel so far for treatment. What we wanted to get out of that day was to allow our corpsman to observe the doctor and see how good he is.”

    Civic projects like this allow the Marines and Afghan National Security Forces operating in the area to further build trust within the community, and engage the civilian populace in discussions about development of governance.

    “Any time you get a large group together you have more of a chance to communicate with them,” said Haubert. “You need to take these opportunities to turn any situation into a discussion about getting them involved in government. When we first got here people were afraid to come down to the patrol base, but now we can host something like this and have almost 100 people come to the front gate. The fact that we can do this speaks to the difference between then and now.”

    Editors Note: The 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division (Forward)/Task Force Leatherneck. Task force Leatherneck serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command Southwest and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.15.2011
    Date Posted: 12.15.2011 04:14
    Story ID: 81411
    Location: SANGIN DISTRICT, HELMAND PROVINCE, , AF

    Web Views: 457
    Downloads: 5

    PUBLIC DOMAIN