PUNTARENAS, Costa Rica (NNS) -- Senior leadership from the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) alongside host, U.S. diplomatic and partner nation representatives attended an opening ceremony to mark the beginning of the ship’s medical mission stop in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, July 23.
The purpose of this mission is for U.S. service members and medical professionals to work alongside partner and host nation medical specialists to provide medical assistance and help relieve pressure on health systems strained by the Venezuelan migration crisis.
“The Comfort isn’t just a symbol of American goodwill, it’s a symbol of goodwill of the Americas – neighbors helping neighbors,” said Capt. Brian J. Diebold, commander, Task Force 49. “In the next week, this team of professionals from Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and the United States will help many thousands of people, and we are all excited to make new friends.”
Comfort’s team consists of more than 900 personnel, including military, non-governmental organization volunteers and members from partner nations, who began screening surgical patients July 9. This ceremony signifies that medical sites are fully operational and will treat hundreds of patients during its mission.
“We are proud to work with Ambassador Faria and Costa Rica to provide Comfort medical services to Venezuelans, as well as Nicaraguans, Costa Ricans and others in need,” said U.S. Embassy San Jose Chargé d’Affaires Gloria Berbena.
This marks the second visit Comfort has made to Puntarenas. During Continuing Promise 2011, embarked medical teams treated more than 7,000 patients aboard Comfort and at several medical sites in the vicinity of Puntarenas.
This mission stop is part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative and reflects the United States’ ongoing commitment to friendship, partnership and solidarity with partner nations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. It is also an invaluable opportunity to learn from other partner nations.
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