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News | April 28, 2017

MEDRETE and MPE missions support medical care in Honduras

By Capt. Anthony Lesterson Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Thirty-four personnel from Joint Task Force-Bravo’s Medical Element, along with Joint Security Forces (JSF) and Joint Support Battalion (JSB), participated in a two-day Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) and a Military Partnership Engagement with the Honduran Armed Forces April 20-22, providing basic medical care for more the 1,500 patients.

The medical mission took place in the Department of Colon, Honduras where members of JTF-Bravo medical staff distributed preventive medicine, provided basic medical and dental attention, dental amenities and provided medication to the local population.

Selection of an area of operation for a medical engagement is decided by U.S. Embassy members in combination with JTF-Bravo leadership, as well as partner nation representatives, specifically the Honduran Armed Forces and the Ministry of Health, to determine the priority and need of a specific area. The selection is usually determined by remote locations less or not likely at all to receive health care. Access to medical care is limited and less capable of accommodating residents with more serious illnesses in rural areas outside of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa.

MEDRETEs provide a real-life atmosphere where service members can enhance their medical abilities under austere conditions, better preparing them for humanitarian and disaster relief situations.

“We are in a more remote community in Honduras that does not get the same attention from resources and government ability to come in and assist the folks here,” said U.S. Army Capt. Zachary Schmook, JTF-Bravo officer in charge for this operation.  “This is a general medical clinic for folks who are here treating basic diseases and providing vitamins and medicines for folks who need them.”

Service members from JSF and JSB also had the opportunity to enhance their training in critical areas like field survival, security, troop management and logistics planning, while simultaneously strengthening a partnership with local residents and volunteers. Each skillset is critical to the overall success of the operation.

“This is a great partnership for us and Honduras and other countries that we go too. It is a good training exercise for us in the event we have a humanitarian assistance, disaster relief if that were to occur, we can already hit the ground running. We know how to do it, know how to set it up and it is a good benefit for the Honduran people and the citizens of the other countries that we see.”  Said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rhonda Dyer, preventative medicine nurse at JTF-Bravo Medical Element.

Volunteer organizations played a critical role in the success of the mission at hand, assisting in everything from providing medical assistance to providing food and water to local Honduran residents.

“In addition to the folks we brought from JTF-Bravo, we also have a number of Hondurans who are assisting us,” said Schmook, “That includes a gynecologist, psychologist and some additional dental and medical support to allow us to broaden the support that we offer here.”

The operation was able to continue with an ongoing tradition taking place since 1993, letting residents know that JTF-Bravo personnel are here to be good neighbors and partners throughout Central America.