FORWARD OPERATING BASE BRASSFIELD-MORA, SAMARRA, Iraq - Scores of Iraqi citizens joined city, provincial and coalition leaders March 18 in commemorating the official opening of the Al Huwaish Medical Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony in Samarra, Iraq.

Several senior leaders from the province attended the ceremony, including a number of local shaykhs, the mayor of Samarra, the deputy governor of Salah ad-Din province and the command group from 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

The al Huwaish clinic project has been underway for nearly two years. Repeated insurgent attacks as close as the adjacent building, which still lies in ruins, impeded completion of the clinic's construction for several months. With increased stability and security in the region now the norm, coalition and Iraqi leaders have been able to complete this long-awaited project, and are confident the area will remain safe and secure.

Doctor Majdi Shareef, Director of Medical Planning for Salah ad-Din province, has taken a particular interest in the success and completion of this clinic, and has made every effort to staff the center with capable healthcare professionals and state of the art equipment.

"I am very pleased with the potential this clinic has to help cure the people of Samarra," said Shareef. "That potential is tied very closely, however, to continued support of local doctors and medical professionals, as well as support from the Ministry of Health."

The new medical center spans two floors and offers a wide array of treatment options and diagnostic care. The clinic has several examination rooms, an x-ray machine, two dental stations, a pharmacy, a laboratory and a classroom.

At full staff, the medical center has the capability to provide healthcare to nearly 200 patients a day, and serves not only the surrounding Huwaish neighborhood, but several of Samarra's outlying villages, as well.

A staff of twelve medical professionals are currently on the clock in the center: two doctors, two pharmacy technicians, a phlebotomist and six medical assistants.

The Iraqi Ministry of Health has also provided a dedicated janitorial staff to ensure the clinic remains clean and the equipment serviceable. Resan Nasir, a local contractor and custodial artist, takes great pride in his selection as supervising janitorial manager for the clinic. "This building is very important," said Nasir. "It shows the people of Samarra and those who would do us harm we have the toughness and resolve to continue living our lives and securing a better future, unafraid."

Nasir's sentiment was echoed by 1st Lt. Daniel Flynn, 3rd platoon leader, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. "This is a very good day for Samarrans," said Flynn. "It has been a long time coming, but I am very impressed with the heart and dedication that has gone into this clinic, and I am confident the people will take every advantage of the new facility."