SEOUL (July 8, 2013) -- Military medical leaders from 21 nations are participating in the 23rd Asia Pacific Military Medicine Conference here, at the Millennium Seoul Hotel, July 8-12.

Hosted by U.S. Army Pacific and the Republic of Korea Armed Forces Medical Command, the conference has brought together experts to tackle a wide variety of health issues confronting military forces in the Asia Pacific region.

During the five-day conference, the medical leaders will address everything from emerging infectious diseases to deployment health for peacekeeping operations.

Special areas of interest for the conference will include nursing, veterinary medicine and noncommissioned officer and medic development.

The conference is held annually in different cities around the region. The last conference was held in Bangkok.

Maj. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, commanding general of the U.S. Army's Western Regional Medical Command, described the common commitment that medical professionals share, regardless of the uniform they wear or the country they serve.

"As medical professionals, we share a common bond in service to our countries, to our militaries and most importantly to our patients," said Thomas. "Although we come from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds and speak a variety of different languages, our shared interest in medicine and the healing arts has made our own language."

At the July 8 opening ceremony, Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux thanked the participants for their commitment to working together to confront complex health issues.

"Effective partnerships are crucial in our business," said Champoux. "In today's increasingly connected world, many of the biggest health problems we face transcend national borders."

"Conferences like these also help us to build the relationships needed to make a lasting difference as we take on long-term issues," said Champoux.

The Eighth Army commanding general also thanked the medical leaders for their focus on taking care of troops, civilians and families.

"I salute all of our military health care providers for their commitment to our most important resources: the men and women who serve in our militaries," said Champoux.