Medical Operation Helps Soldiers Build Trust
February 21, 2007
BAGHDAD, Feb. 20, 2007 - When Spc. Michael Benusa needs to do his job, it's usually a bad thing. As a medic for Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, the last thing Benusa hopes for is to be needed to treat one of his fellow soldiers.
But, that wasn't the case on a recent trip outside Combat Outpost Callahan, where Benusa's company has set up residence.
"We revisited some people with health issues we identified during our initial cordon and search of the area," said the native of Duluth, Minn. "We went to check on their progress and bring them some medication they may have trouble attaining on their own."
The first stop was at a home where an Iraqi girl had a skin condition.
"The little girl at the first house had circumfurial eczema around her eyes and mouth," Benusa said. "We gave them some hydrocortisone last time and some instructions on how to use it. I was really surprised at how much her condition had improved. You couldn't have asked for better results in the United States, or any other country for that matter."
Benusa was glad to be able to put his skills to work and not be treating a wounded soldier.
"It feels good to be needed, and not have one of your guys really messed up," Benusa said. "Usually, I don't have anything to do, and that's a good thing, because if I am busy that would be bad news for everyone else."
Even though this mission had a different purpose than what an infantry platoon might normally encounter, it was not time to let your guard down, said Spc. Adam Gregory, an infantryman from Madison, Mo.
"Every time you leave the gate you have to have your game face on," Gregory said. "You never know what's going to happen. All it takes is one guy to pop around a corner to get you."
The opportunity to help the residents in the area is a way the soldiers try to build a relationship with the Iraqis so they can help provide better security to the area.
"It shows them another side of us," Gregory said. "It shows them we are not here to shoot up their town. We're here to help, and we hope that leads to information; information we can use to help clean up the streets for them, so they can have a better life."
After visiting the first house, the soldiers moved on to the next house where they had first encountered a man who had suffered a stroke. His family had asked the medic if there was anything they could do to help him. Benusa did all he could, but it was ultimately up to the family to make sure the man got the care he needed.
"The second individual we visited today had suffered a stroke," Benusa said. "There really isn't anything we can do for him. There is no medication that just makes the effects of a stroke go away. It's going to take some time for his condition to show any progress."
Benusa gave the man's family instructions on how to help rehabilitate the man's mobility in the limbs affected by the stroke.
Providing medical assistance for those who need, Gregory said, is what makes the deployment worthwhile.
"It felt great to help these people, it gives us a sense of purpose," said Gregory. "We can go out there five times a day, but to actually help someone makes it feel worth leaving your family for."