By Capt. Kimberley Jennings, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.March 4, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Two Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are responsible for providing physical therapy across three of Iraq's southern-most provinces.
Capt. Candi Darst and Spc. Nicholas Pieper, assigned to the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, provide their medical skills to Coalition Forces, Iraqi Security Forces and Iraqi civilians in the Maysan, Muthanna and Dhi Qar provinces since the unit arrived in Iraq last summer.
"While the contributions of the brigade physical therapist are not immediately noticeable, the effects are felt throughout the brigade through improved morale and welfare to the Soldier" explained Darst, the 27th BSB 'Rough Riders' lead Physical Therapist. "It is an invaluable asset and preserves the well being of numerous Soldiers."
Darst, a native of Newport News, Va., uses sports injury medical practices to heal many Soldiers' and civilians' injuries.
She travels at least once a month to provide care to the troops in remote locations. Her missions sometimes mean hours on the dusty roads of Iraq to care for troops.
"I have spent time on what seems like a hundred outposts over here, and have not experienced the level of support given by Capt. Darst," said Sgt. 1st Class Steven Bliss, a physical therapy technician working in her coverage area.
While Darst is out on missions, Pieper, a native of Ovievo, Fla., remains at COB Adder keeping patients on their way to recovery until the senior therapist returns. He assists the military healthcare providers with the proper orthopedic bracing and exercise care.
Recently, Darst had the opportunity to support 'Operation Future Steps,' a medical partnership with Iraqi physicians to help identify necessary equipment for physically disabled children. Currently, there are no licensed Iraqi physical therapists available in the region.
"We hope that through more collaborative partnerships," said Darst. "Iraqi medics and physician's will place more of an emphasis on this type of care."