WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 29, 2010) -- Reserve Soldiers have disembarked from the USNS Mercy after volunteering their skills in support of joint operations with the Navy to conduct disaster relief, civic assistance endeavors and other humanitarian missions.

The 807th Medical Detachment Support Command spent three months touring parts of Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia on a mission to bring medicine, dental services, eye exams and glasses and even veterinary care for domestic and farm animals.

This was the first time the medical command had participated in Pacific Partnership missions. It was a unique opportunity for Soldiers to see the world through the eyes of a Sailor and get a taste of life at sea.

"The Navy has been very receptive to our Soldiers, quickly integrating our Soldiers into their sections and assuming responsibility for them," said Master Sgt. William Fletcher, a plans and operations Soldier for the 807th MDSC. "This mission has allowed the soldiers to execute their military occupational specialty in real world missions."

For Soldiers like 1st Lt. Uma Ravishankar, who serves as a nurse, this is a unique mission that she feels honored to be a part of.

"I like being able to nurture the ill, make them feel good, and improve their quality of life," she said, adding that this mission has helped her appreciate the things that she has.

The trip to Vietnam came at a sensitive time during the anniversary of the ending of the long and bloody war. Soldiers wore street clothes out of respect to the local populace because many people in Vietnam still have a negative perception of the U.S. military. Ravishankar said that it's important to change that perspective.

"It is really important to try and spread the philosophy of what we do compared to how these countries view us," she said. "We are able to touch so many people's lives."

The partnership saw 101,662 patients on shore, 1,580 patients onboard and conducted 807 surgeries. More than 62 community service missions were completed and the biomechanical department repaired $5,867,900 worth of equipment repair.

The current Pacific Partnership is conducting humanitarian health-care missions throughout the east-Asian coastline, to include Cambodia, Indonesia, and Papua New-Guinea.

The mission ends this month, but the partnership plans to go to India next year, and Ravishankar said she is very excited to be a part of the team in 2011.

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