July 15th, 2007 07:06 EST
Armor, Infantry Join Forces to Treat Patients
PATROL BASE BATAAN " One of the many benefits of Gen. David Petraeus` "hugging" strategy " living close to the Iraqi people " is that U.S. and Iraqi troops can help care for the civilians in their areas."
Soldiers of 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., treated more than 90 residents of a small village outside Patrol Base Bataan, Iraq, southwest of Baghdad, July 11. Company B, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga., and the 478th Civil Affairs Company out of Miami aided them.
The combined medical engagement began at 8 a.m. and brought many residents suffering from ailments ranging from gastrointestinal to respiratory problems.
About a third of the patients were military-aged males, said Capt. Chris Sanchez, a native of Los Angeles and the battalion`s civil-military operations officer.
The reason many residents reported upset stomachs was probably related to the water, medics said. The village is in a very rural area, where most people depend on irrigation canals for their water.
Sanchez said he hopes to be able to bring portable water filters into the village until water treatment facilities can be repaired.
About half of the patients were children, as parents brought them in to be seen for fevers, colds and other maladies.
Although many people have chronic illnesses, they can`t be treated by the traveling clinics, which medics find frustrating.
However, they were able to significantly help one elderly Iraqi man.
"We gave him a wheelchair," said Sanchez. "Previously, he had to be carried almost everywhere. I think we made his day with that."
At the end of the operation, Sanchez said the engagement was a success.
"Overall, it was a good day for the Iraqis in need of basic medical care," Sanchez said. "It was a smaller area, with no real access to health care. This combined medical engagement made a big impact."