By Joint Task Force-EastSeptember 10, 2008
NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, Bulgaria - U.S. Army healthcare specialists treated about 90 children, adults and senior, in this small Bulgarian town Sept. 1 and 2, delivering free care in support of Joint Task Force East's humanitarian mission.
"If they hadn't come I wouldn't be able to afford this sort of care," said Fana Ilieva Shopova, 86, as she tried out a new pair of glasses.
Members of the 212th Combat Support Hospital, out of Kaiserslautern, Germany, offered the treatment in the temporary facility they set up at the local primary school.
The CSH offered screenings, eye and dental care, and preventive medicine classes. Several patients offered small amounts of money for the care they received because they could not fathom getting it for free, according to Rositsa Petrova Dimitrova, a translator working in support of the mission.
Sungurlare, a town of 4,000 in Southeast Bulgaria, has no orthodontists and citizens often have to travel far for healthcare.
"These missions make you realize what you have," Master Sgt. Joseph Bailey, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 212th contingent, said.
The town's mayor said several local citizens had expressed their gratitude to him for the care they had received.
"This has had a large social impact; I'm delighted by the attention given to the senior citizens of the municipality," said Mayor Georgi Kenov.
The 212th crew was just as delighted to offer the attention.
"It has been a pretty rewarding day," said Lt. Kelly Sullivan, a nurse, adding that she was amazed to see how something as simple as the care they offer could make such a difference in people's lives.
The unit is slated to provide the same care in five other towns in Bulgaria.