US troops provide free medical care in South America, the Caribbean

U.S. Southern Command completed a 56-day medical assistance mission to deliver no-cost medical care to three countries across South American and the Caribbean, according to a statement from Air Forces Southern Command.

The effort in Suriname, Guyana and Saint Lucia — named Operation Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team — were part of SOCOM’s Enduring Promise Initiative, a project meant to increase security and stability in the Western Hemisphere, according to the statement.

“Our presence provided a truly beneficial capacity boost to our partners’ facilities, and we were able to exchange knowledge, expertise and insights amongst one another,” Maj. Gen. Evan Pettus, 12th Air Force commander, said in a statement. “[O]ur medical professionals received valuable hands-on experience that absolutely enhanced their professional readiness. We are all better for the exchange.”

The mission was organized by AFSOUTH, according to a spokesperson with the Twelfth Air Force public affairs, and Army contingents were also involved in the operation’s implementation. Medical personnel performed 184 surgeries, completed 16 dental surgeries, and examined 298 emergency room and 688 dental patients.

The mission also provided approximately $450,000 in supplies that “eased inventory shortages at the local facilities,” according to the statement.

“The opportunity to work as a team in a dynamic environment is an invaluable experience that will directly translate to saving lives on the battlefield,” U.S. Army Maj. Jason Bingham, a LAMAT surgeon, said in the statement. “I’ve greatly enjoyed the knowledge sharing that occurred between our team and our incredibly talented local counterparts. We’re all better as a result.”

Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.

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