A Decade Dedicated to Changing Thousands of Lives

A Decade Dedicated to Changing Thousands of Lives

By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo
January 30, 2017

Porfavor pueden decirme donde los puedo encontrar aqui en Honduras. De antemano gracias por la información. In January 2017, Naval Station Mayport, Florida exercised an uncommon rehearsal. Sailors, Marines, Army, Air Force, and civilian crews were busy unfolding tents, staking down their corners, connecting their poles, and assembling their frames in order to learn all the details about life in the “tent city” that would serve as their living facilities during their upcoming four-month deployment to partner nations in Central and South America. The 168 personnel soon to deploy are part of Continuing Promise 2017 (CP-17), a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored humanitarian aid mission executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. It is a civil-military operation that will bring medical, dental, and veterinary assistance, as well as training for disaster response to communities in Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia from January to April 2017. “We want to show our continuing support and dedication to the region and further our partnerships with our neighbors in Central and South America,” said U.S. Navy Captain Errin Armstrong, Commodore Destroyer Squadron 40 (CDS 40) and CP-17 Mission commander. CP-17 comprises a command element led by CDS 40 and other supporting detachments from several U.S. military forces. In addition to the importance of providing humanitarian aid, CP-17 is an important learning experience for the personnel involved, both from the United States as well as the partner nations, stated Capt. Armstrong. “It is a two-way learning experience, where they train us and we train them… The folks that are part of the mission are not just simply giving, they are receiving from the community and from the experts of the partner countries,” added Capt. Armstrong. Hand-to-hand with partner nations For the first time, CP-17’s platform is the USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1), a military sealift command-operated expeditionary fast transport vessel. The Spearhead has the capability to provide quick movement of personnel and equipment in order to execute humanitarian assistance in a timely and efficient manner. The U.S. personnel work hand-to-hand with their host nation counterparts, local government officials, health professionals, non-governmental, and private volunteer organizations to respond to the medical needs of their local populations. In addition, they will work with the community to increase their preparedness for disaster response. “The response from our partner nations is very positive. From the individuals that in the past have had surgeries and numerous medical needs, to the people that are waiting in line to get medical treatments, to the doctors in the region that we are doing training and subject-matter exchanges with, and to the local and national governments,” said Capt. Armstrong. “I have never had anyone ask us, why are you here, or we don’t want you here; everyone has been very appreciative, very supportive, and they asked us when can we come back.” Continuing Promise began in June 2007 as a U.S. commitment to Latin American and Caribbean partner nation communities by delivering health care, humanitarian assistance, and civic support. The mission also provides infrastructure and construction improvements, such as building schools, clinics, community centers, and the repairing of roads and water systems. “The host nations have been very gracious about working with us and trying to integrate us into their system, so we can help them out.” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Lennon, a family physician at the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, and medical site officer-in-charge for CP-17. “It is a wonderful opportunity to meet people down there, work with the patients they allow us to treat, and to help them build their health care infrastructure… The kind of learning and building relationship we exchange with one another is invaluable.” This year alone, the mission estimates it will provide medical services to 15,000 people needing preventative medical treatments, dental screenings and treatment, optometry, eyewear distribution, and women’s health services. “We are looking forward to supporting CP-17. It is the first deployment for some of the military personnel here. Everyone is looking forward to making a difference in these countries,” assured Capt. Armstrong before departing. “We are really excited to go down and continue this mission.” For Lt. Cmdr. Lennon, “There is a simple humanity of help.” He makes sure everything is in order for his medical team of 80 professionals to put their medical skills to work during CP-17. “When someone hurts, we know what it means, we know the signs and symptoms; even if we can’t speak the language directly, we speak the human language.” Continuing Promise year-to-date numbers: Patients treated……………. 462,268 Surgeries performed………. 5,555 Dental patients treated…….. 38,279 Animals treated……………. 28,655 Construction projects…….. 180+ Source: Public Affair Officers, USNAVSO/FOURTHFLT
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