CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq (Army News Service, May 19, 2008) - American and Iraqi soldiers visited Iskan Children's Teaching Hospital in Mansour to distribute goodies provided by friends and Family in the United States.

During the mission, the American and Iraqi soldiers visited the cancer ward at the hospital to hand out gifts and treats sent by friends and Family in the United States.

The Soldiers have been visiting the children at this hospital, which is near Joint Security Station Washash, since they arrived there more than a year ago. As Soldiers continue to work with Iraqi soldiers, they stress the importance of developing relationships with members of the local communities.

Working with their Iraqi Army counterparts, Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, currently attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Multi-National Division - Baghdad, worked to build such relationships during a visit to the Iskan Children's Teaching Hospital in the Baghdad district of Mansour May 15.

The mission was about more than just dropping off gifts - it was about communicating with the children. For Staff Sgt. Anthony Orosz, taking time to talk to the young patients is a crucial element.

"It's difficult because it's impossible to do everything we want to for the hospital," said Orosz, "but the kids, they just get smiles on their faces. That makes it worth it. That reminds us exactly why we do this."

The goal is to brighten the days of the children, but the Soldiers, who take pleasure in visiting the children, also receive benefits.

"This is like a treat. It's a good day when we get to go see the kids," said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Deunger.

Both Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers interacted with the children as they handed out snacks.

"We're trying to get (the Iraqi Army) to take over so the Iraqi people know they are not just there to fight the bad guys," said Deunger, "They are also there to help people and protect them."

Iraqi Army 1st Lt. Arkan Abraheem Ali, who serves as the executive officer with the 3rd Co., 1st Bn., made it a point to show interest in each child as they walked through the rooms in the cancer ward.

"I enjoy giving them the gifts because I can see the joy in the eyes of the children and their families," Ali said. "It helps to build bridges between us and the people here."

The hospital staff also expressed their appreciation for the attention the soldiers have shown and continue to show to the children for which they care.

While the hospital workers and the Ministry of Health do all they can to continue improving the physical care these children receive, visits from the soldiers, both Iraqi and American, help bring happiness to the suffering children, said Ab Al-Kareem Abass Muhssin, the assistant hospital manager.

Conducting missions focused on bettering the lives of children helps the Iraqi Army to have more well-rounded soldiers.

"The IA in our area have proven themselves to be competent soldiers. They are well trained," said Orosz. "Now, we are trying to get them to do the same thing that we did, which was switch from the more kinetic operations, such as raids, over to the humanitarian side as much as they can."

(Spc. April Campbell serves with Multi National Division-Baghdad Public Affairs Office)