Trinidad & Tobago (July 20, 2009) - Much needed specialized and general medical care is being offered in Trinidad and Tobago as part of the humanitarian and civic assistance mission Beyond the Horizon (BTH) 2009. At the invitation of the Trinidad and Tobago government, the U.S. Army will be conducting medical treatments in Toco, Valencia, and San Fernando until Aug 20.

Beyond the Horizon 2009 falls under the U.S. Southern Command initiative, Partnership for the Americas Collaboration and Coordination Element (PACCE), which deploys U.S. service members to rural communities in Latin America and the Caribbean where they collaborate with the host nation military to provide medical, dental and engineering renovations and assist in enhancing the capabilities of participating forces. U.S. Army South's coordination and execution of BTH 2009 in Trinidad and Tobago is a demonstration of the United States' continued commitment to Latin America and the Caribbean.

"We appreciate the invitation to cordially work together with Trinidad and Tobago Region Members of Parliament, Government Ministries, Mayors, the Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force/ Regiment, Civic Organizations, and local Communities," said Lt. Col. Dennis Freytes, Mission Commander, U.S. Army South. "We are committed to sustaining a long lasting friendship and partnership for the prosperity; the good of all."

While in Trinidad and Tobago, members of the Walter Reed and Madigan Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., Delaware Army National Guard Medical Detachment, West Point Medical Center, Utah Army National Guard Medical Detachment and Dental Team, and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas will be conducting Medical Readiness Training Exercises (MEDRETES).

Since the beginning of July the Specialty Cataract Surgical MEDRETE has screened 238 patients for eye cataract surgery and performed the procedure on 93 patients. All surgeries are being conducted by U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago surgeons at the Mount Hope Hospital in Trinidad and Tobago. The other two MEDRETES are focusing on general medicine, dental and optometry, and look to treat approximately 500-800 people a day.

Meanwhile, members of the 215th Engineering Battalion from the Puerto Rico National Guard worked to complete the renovation of five schools and an orphanage from May 28 to July 1. Currently the renovations of two Arrima Orphanages are being conducted alongside the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.

In addition to the humanitarian assistance, BTH 2009 also provides the U.S. military valuable opportunities to learn from Trinidad and Tobago military and civilian experts. This experience helps ensure the U.S. military is able to rapidly respond in support of emergency relief efforts in the future.

"Beyond the Horizons is a great opportunity for us to learn and work together in providing engineering and medical services that hopefully will enhance the lives of the people of Trinidad & Tobago," said Freytes.

The relationships built and sustained with multinational partners in the western hemisphere through exercises and professional and military exchanges help tremendously in humanitarian efforts and preserving peace and stability in the region.

"This humanitarian operation will greatly help foster a strong partnership with the United States; assist in meeting common goals for peace, progress, democracy, and security of the Caribbean. In the end, we should, together, make a peaceful collaborative effort for the future of the families of the Americas," said Freytes.