Camp Liberty, Baghdad, Iraq – Hunting down insurgents in the Baghdad area is only part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team “Commandos” mission. They also help cut down on the medical problems in the area as well.
A medical team, composed of Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment and 210th Forward Support Battalion, treated minor medical ailments of residents of a small village outside Baghdad.
“This is an opportunity for us to go out and assess the medical situation of the people of a village in our area of operation, and to provide as much medical care as we can while we are over there,” said 1st Lt. Peter Olsen, 4-31 Infantry medical platoon leader.
The medics worked through a translator to identify the medical problems of approximately 13 villagers, and possibly treat any medical problems they may have.
“We will treat chronic problems, such as pain or infections,” Olsen said. “We give a lot of over the counter drugs and creams. If a patient has an infected wound we treat the wound and give him antibiotic cream to put on it.”
Olsen said some of the medical conditions the medical Soldiers see cannot be treated right then because of the severity of the illness.
“We will see some things we cannot treat on the spot, such as malnutrition,” he said. “This trip is basically an assessment so when we come out again later, we will be better prepared.”
One of the locals said he was grateful for the medical care provided by the Soldiers.
“This is a good idea,” the man said. “People need health care. We have a clinic nearby, but a lot of people don’t know about it. There are plenty of doctors but not enough medicine.”
For some of the Soldiers, this was their first time to provide locals with medical care. Others, like Spc. Darcie Nielson, a 210th FSB medic, helped locals while participating in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. She said her experience with the locals is a humbling one.
“We take a lot for granted, like hot water, food, medical care,” Nielson said. “This gives me a chance to meet the Iraqi people. Most of them are really nice; they are not all insurgents and terrorists.”
Winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people is a main objective of Soldiers in Iraq, Olsen said. He added that his experience with the locals is one he will never forget.
“The main reason we are going out is so people in this area know we are here to help them,” he said. “Part of the reason I joined the Army was to travel and this is the best possible way to interact with the locals. Personally I think going out and helping these people is awesome.”
Olsen said his experiences with the local people are different than those of an infantryman. He said the people may perceive what he is doing different than what a security patrol is doing.
“When you are out on a security patrol the interaction is a lot different than when you are providing medical care,” he said. “It’s good, positive interaction.”