SEOUL, South Korea --Ensuring a trained healthcare professional force is medically ready can be challenging in the Republic of Korea. From Oct. 30 to Nov. 3, 2017, the 65th Medical Brigade hosted the 67th Annual 38th Parallel Healthcare Training Symposium at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan's Dragon Hill Lodge which was designed to discuss medical issues and advancements unique to the peninsula and Pacific region.

This year's theme was global health security in the Asia Pacific region and was designed to ensure that trained and ready healthcare professionals sustain a medically ready force that is prepared to "fight tonight".

"We achieved this by providing high quality continuing education and strengthening our bonds with our Republic of Korea military medical partners," said Sgt. Maj. Alejandro Pereyraalaniz, 65th Medical Brigade clinical operations sergeant major.

The symposium offered professional classes and discussions on a variety of topics to include medical operations, trauma care, chemical biological radiological nuclear environment, emerging health threats, dental trauma, non-commissioned officer leadership, care and treatment of military working dogs, behavioral health concepts and medical best practices.

The 38th Parallel Society was formed in 1951 by a group of medical officers in Korea that met to discuss current medical issues on the peninsula and has continued every year since.

"This year the span of discussions focused on global health security in the Asia-Pacific region and provided a holistic approach and better understanding of operating within our present environment," said Col. Wendy Harter, 65th Medical Brigade Commander.

The Commanding General for Eighth United States Army and Chief of Staff of United Nations Command, United States Forces Korea, Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal was a plenary guest speaker at the symposium. During his opening remarks, Vandal stressed the commitment of medical health care professionals.

"The quality of medical care in our Army is superb allowing our soldiers to continue to serve because of the efforts of you, the health care professionals," said Vandal. "Events such as the symposium ensures that [you] have the opportunity to share lessons learned and exchange ideas, sharpen your skills ensuring our forces are better equipped and prepared by sharing medical advances and practices preparing all of us for effective operations in this combined joint environment."

The symposium was no small task as the brigade headquarters was also transitioning and relocating forces to U.S. Army Garrison-Humphreys. Vandal highlighted that the command emphasis and teamwork within the brigade has helped Eighth Army to maintain over 90 percent medical readiness over the last 13 months.

"It is through your combined efforts and opportunities to train and collaborate in venues such as this, that we all have gained a deep shared understanding critical to the combined joint operations resolving our interoperability gaps and gained quality educational experiences while simultaneously improving our medical readiness posture on the peninsula at a time that is critical," concluded Vandal.