BAGHDAD - Despite the heat of an Iraqi summer, a medical team made up of Soldiers from United States Division - Center traveled to a small Iraqi town south of Baghdad to help its citizens June 1.

As Iraqi Security Forces secured the perimeter, members of 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Inf. Div., visited a medical clinic in Qarghuli to conduct a combined medical engagement. The event provided basic medical care and medicines for local residents and displayed American commitment when partnering with Iraqis.

"[The medical engagement] promotes better relationships between the two different cultures," said Los Angeles native Spc. Tomas Martinez, a medic assigned to HHC, 2nd Bn. "I like helping people. That's why I chose to be a medic."

As locals arrived, they were routed to appropriate physicians based on their needs. Fort Benning, Ga. native, Capt. Kathryn Payne, battalion surgeon assigned to 1st Bn., 41st Field Artillery, 1st AAB, took care of the women and children. As a pediatric physician, Payne said she enjoyed the opportunity to examine and interact with Iraqi youth.

"I enjoy seeing kids, so any chance I get to see them, I will," she said; "even if it is just giving them some toothpaste and a toothbrush."

She said she hopes conducting missions such as this will influence the Iraqi people to think kindly of Americans and continue working toward partnership with the United States.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Whitaker, a native of Rancho Cordova, Calif., and senior treatment noncommissioned officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 2nd Bn., said he also enjoyed helping children.

"We are here to do some good and if we help in the long run, that's great," said Whitaker. "It is gratifying when people walk away with a smile."

West Point, N.Y., native 2nd Lt. Jen Wardynski, assigned to 1st AAB, helped coordinate the medical side of the event. She believes missions like this help foster stronger ties within the Iraqi communities.

"As we get closer to closing up and leaving, it is important to do all we can to leave on good terms," she said. "It is good for them to see Americans in the right light, not just the big guns."
Wardynski said USD-C medical personnel are doing the best they can and hopes the Iraqi people, no matter what their politics are, see that Soldiers are good people and want to help.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16