Beyond the Horizon (BTH) 2017 is a partnership exercise between the government of Belize and U.S. Southern Command that will provide three free medical service events and five construction projects throughout the country from March 25th until June 17th. Members of the Utah National Guard’s Medical Command (MEDCOM) were on site to provide several different basic medical procedures and health care services to the local Belizean population.
“We are providing dental services, vision exams, general medicine, a women’s health clinic, and a pediatric clinic,” said Lt. Col. Erin Merryweather, deputy commander of clinical services with the Utah MEDCOM. The free medical clinic was open at the Ladyville Recreation Center until April 21st, with a break in operation April 14th-16th over the holiday weekend. “Past experiences have shown there is the potential to treat up to 600 or 700 patients a day during this event,” Lt. Col. Merryweather added.
She explained that some of the common ailments and illnesses the health care providers saw include issues related to high blood pressure, diabetes, dermatological issues, dental problems, and the common cold.
Specialist Braydon Berger, a combat medic assigned to the Utah MEDCOM, said his experience had been very humbling since arriving in Belize. “I have spent a great deal of time today encouraging females to visit the women’s health clinic,” Spc. Berger said. “Women’s health is a very important issue that needs to be addressed, and I am glad our professionally trained soldiers are here to help the people of Belize.” This was his first overseas training mission and he was very happy to see all the smiling faces leaving the medical clinic.
“It’s a true blessing to be a part of this medical mission,” said Sergeant Johnny Noles, a combat medic assigned to the 128th Medical Company based in Ashland, Alabama. “Our soldiers want to do well for this community and create a good positive vibe for what the U.S. military can and will do for the people of Belize.”
Access to quality healthcare is a key component to the mission of BTH 2017, as well as strengthening ties with the Belizean government and its people. Sgt. Noles said offering the free medical clinic was a great way to help build positive relationships with the Belizean community. “We are truly impacting and we are treating people,” Sgt. Noles said. “So anytime that you treat people, they are going to come away with not only the treatment, but a good positive outlook of what we are about.”