by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Catherine Tharpe
Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element
10/6/2014 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- There were eight booths set up to educate personnel on dental hygiene, mental health issues, physical therapy, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response (SHARP), and general health information such as prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, malaria, and cardiovascular disease. Personnel could get a general idea of where their health is at in relation to their age with blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol checks being performed on site.
"The health and wellness fair is an avenue for individuals to know what is normal, what falls outside the range of normal and how to best address health issues or concerns people may have wanted to ask their physician but may have forgotten during their appointments, "said U.S. Army Captain Jewell Hemmings, MEDEL's Community Health Nurse and organizer of the event. "The information that is being given out today is a tool to teach people how to manage their health."
Participants received various information from the MEDEL dental team covering topics proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques. The dental personnel gave out toothbrushes and mirrors to teach individuals how to perform a self exam. Questions from participants ranged from "does smoking affects dental and gum health?" and "does regular bleaching weaken my teeth?"
Resources for issues such as suicide awareness, post traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol awareness were on hand with U.S. Army Major Hilario Pascua, MEDEL's behavioral health provider on hand to give advice on coping mechanisms or information to get confidential help if needed. "Healthy mental wellness is important for our service members and their families. We are trying to teach individuals how to recognize suicide indicators and how to help yourself or your battle buddy," said Pascua. "If someone on Soto Cano is having suicidal thoughts or if anyone knows someone who is there is 24-7 help by either calling 9808-0563 or MEDEL at 449-4190."
MEDEL's physical therapist, U.S. Army Captain, Allan Tangaan provided information on the Army's performance triad covering topics such as diet, exercise, and the benefits of getting enough rest to recover from a service member's physical training program and other strenuous activities associated with being in the military. Resources for enhancing wellness, supplement education, and physical therapy advice were all questions that many individuals were interested in.
"The turnout for the Health and Wellness Fair was a success. We were able to do 150 cholesterol panels, many blood pressure and glucose checks, and service members and DoD participants were able to get the tools, resources, and advice for general health questions, sexual assault, and suicide prevention," said Hemmings.
Joint Task Force-Bravo's MEDEL is composed of 64 Army personnel who have come together from across the United States and have provided medical care to more than 8,000 people in Honduras over the last 12 months. MEDEL provides preventative medical care, wellness check-ups, dental care, preventative dental care, surgical care, and physical therapy through local partnerships in Comayagua, Tegucigalpa, and through local Medical Readiness Training Exercises (MEDRETES) which are carried out on a weekly basis. MEDEL hosts many training opportunities with the country of Honduras to build strong partnerships between both countries.