FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Feb. 4, 2010) - Members of U.S. Army South and the Army Reserve treated more than 5,100 patients in El Salvador over a nine-day period ending Tuesday.

At the request of the government of El Salvador, U.S. Army South provided much-needed specialized and general medical care as part of a Medical Training and Readiness Exercise. The Soldiers conducted medical and veterinary treatments in Vera Paz, San Emiglio, Guadalupe and San Vicente from Jan 25 to Feb 2.

"Our primary goal is to treat as many Salvadorans with the best possible medical care that we can provide," said Army Lt. Col. Marscha Shivley, the officer in charge of the mission and a member of the 420th Minimal Care Detachment out of Polar Bluff, Mo.

Medical Training and Readiness Exercises, initiatives of U.S. Southern Command, and coordinated through U.S. Army South, deploy U.S. servicemembers to rural communities in Latin America and the Caribbean where they collaborate with the host-nation military to provide medical, dental and veterinary services enhancing the capabilities of participating forces.

Medical Training and Readiness Exercises are designed to foster goodwill and improve relations between the governments of the United States and El Salvador.

"Since we put boots on the ground in El Salvador, the Salvadoran military has been the epitome of excellence," said Shivley. "Their soldiers and officers are very professional and willing to assist in any way to accomplish the mission."

While in El Salvador, members of the 420th Minimal Care Detachment, the 325th, 349th and 369th Combat Support Hospitals, 445th Medical Detachment Army Reserve Veterinary Corps, the 7227th and 7228th Installation Medical Support Units, and the 912th and 388th Medical Detachments provided general medical treatment to more than 3,400 patients, dental services to more than 900 patients and optometry care to more than 700 patients.

The 445th Medical Detachment Army Reserve Veterinary Corps also provided treatment and care of more than 1,200 animals.

Along with the medical services provided, the Medical Training and Readiness Exercise provided an opportunity for U.S. Army Soldiers to exercise their skills in a real-world environment, officials said. They said these exercises allow U.S. military personnel and units to sharpen their occupational skills and practice deployment and redeployments to better prepare to respond to future challenges, while bringing lasting benefits to partner nations and their people.

"This mission also provides a life-learning experience for our Soldiers as well as improving international cultural knowledge," said Shivley. "U.S. and Salvadoran physicians, dentists and pharmacists are working and learning from each other."

The relationships built and sustained with multinational partners in Central and South America and the Caribbean region through such medical exercises help tremendously in humanitarian efforts and preserving peace and stability in the region and continue to demonstrate U.S. Army South's commitment to the people of the region, command officials said.

"Through verbal and nonverbal communication, the Salvadorans have given tremendous positive feedback about their medical care and relationships with U.S. Soldiers and this has improved their overall image of the United States people," said Shivley.