BAC NINH, Vietnam -- Approximately 40 doctors, dentists, nurses and technical specialists from the U.S. and Vietnam joined together to treat hundreds of residents here, during the first of several planned medical visits during a medical readiness exercise in July.

The MEDRETE, scheduled from July 7-15, is the first between the United States Army, Pacific and Vietnam and gives both medical teams a chance to learn from each other in an austere environment while at the same time, providing for thousands of local villagers who may be far away from medical care.

Aca,!A"I think itAca,!a,,cs been a long, long time since the Army has been to Vietnam to these kinds of medical missions,Aca,!A? said Dr. (Col.) Michael Jeffery Sigmon, officer in charge of the exercise. Aca,!A"(This is an opportunity) to exchange information and ideas and learn better ways to care of folks. The overall goal is perhaps improving interoperability so if there is a humanitarian assistance or disaster relief mission that takes place, we can work together with the Vietnamese.Aca,!A?

According to Dr. (Capt.) Michael Sun Woo, general dentist, 618th Dental Company, the U.S. medical staff joined with the Vietnamese Medical Service to offer free medical and dental services to all villagers in the area. Hundreds of villagers waited patiently in line to receive care for everything from cataracts to chronic pain.

The staffs set up several clinics, to include optometry, pediatrics, general health, and dental to help as many people as possible.

Aca,!A"Basically, each person is triaged and we figure out what their chief complaint is, whether itAca,!a,,cs medical or dental and we sent them to their respective clinic,Aca,!A? Woo said. Aca,!A"The people have been wonderful, very nice. IAca,!a,,cm happy to be with my team here. So far itAca,!a,,cs been an excellent experience.Aca,!A?

For over 20 years, U.S. Army, Pacific has participated in MEDRETEs with other host nations within the Asia-Pacific area. The U.S. and approximately 25 countries around the Pacific have benefited from these missions.

Aca,!A"I think itAca,!a,,cs important to show that we would like to maintain positive relationships by doing these types of services to show that we do care for the people, and we do care about learning the different trades and the different practices that other countries have to offer,Aca,!A? said Woo. Aca,!A"Mainly IAca,!a,,cm learning from (my Vietnamese counterpart), and heAca,!a,,cs learning from me. I think itAca,!a,,cs a great thing.Aca,!A?