Request for Medical Supplies! (2004)
Cpt 'Doc' Robert Heath, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, was replaced by two officers
from the 1-14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division.
Here are some pictures from Doc Heath.
Great article by American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).
PLEASE NOTE: 'Doc' Meyer replaced as contact for medical supplies!|
Email from 'Doc' Meyer, Monday, 31 May 2004:
I've got good and bad news…Bad news first: I need to remove myself as the POC for donated medical supplies. My unit's mission has made it extraordinarily difficult to maintain. I assure you, however, that all the items I've received have been distributed. The last boxes were turned over the day before my unit left Tuz. Now the good news: I've established a contact in Civil Affairs who will be able to pick this up. More importantly, he should be able to finally coordinate the receipt of the large shipment Don (and others) have done so much work on. His name is COL Jack Zimmerly , and I've included him on this email so you can start on any necessary coordination. His address is as follows:
COL Jack Zimmerly
It's an honor to have been a part of this process for the past 4 months with you great Americans. I wish you all success in your continuing, selfless efforts. I'll continue as a POC for the "Any Soldier" program, and I'll stay in touch as I'm able.
Peace and God Bless,
TF Surgeon, 1-14th Infantry
Email from 'Doc' Meyer, Friday, 22 May 2004:
"Sorry it's been so long that you've heard from me. As you know from the news, Iraq is a busy place lately. My unit spent the entire month of April on the move. We were in the vicinity of Mosul and then moved near An Najaf and Kufa. We're currently back near Tuz, but not for long. I'll let you know more when I am able. We weren't able to receive much mail at all during our travels, so there was quite a pile waiting for us when we returned. The individual soldier care-packages were definitely well received after 3 weeks of only MRE's. We've also seen some of the hot weather 'underarmour' t-shirts which are appreciated more and more each day as the temperatures continue to climb (we've got a long way to go). There have also been some DVD's which have also been a big hit since most of the men have already been through their own personal collections (as well as their platoon's) a couple times. The 'beanie babies' have been rolling in by the 100's. I distribute them to the companies with the individual boxes, and they take them out on patrols with them to pass to the kids. The same thing applies for all the great items that have been coming in through 'Bev's Baby Project'. I've relied on the companies to get them out in their respective areas. It's been working out very well except I don't have many pictures to show for it (I know those are appreciated, and I'm working on the companies to get some back to me).
The support for the medical donations has likewise been tremendous. We've actually been receiving more medical texts and supplies than individual soldier packages. I guess that could be good or bad depending on your perspective -- definitely 'good' for the Iraqi medical system. Just yesterday we literally put a truckload of texts, periodicals, and supplies in their hands. We've moved to using the existing hierarchy within their system. That is, I give the Director of the Tuz Health Sector all the items I've collected and allow him to distribute them appropriately throughout the entire area. This has a couple of benefits. It avoids any perceptions of partiality or special treatment. For example, if I gave 8 boxes of books to a village that was predominantly Kurdish, but I only gave 2 to an Arab/Turkmen village, it would be viewed as favoritism on the part of Coalition Forces. The other benefit is that it encourages self-reliance and cooperation. We (both the coalition and Iraqis) are relying on the established governmental system. We're just giving it a little 'boost'. It seems to be working well and is in line with the common theme of everything we do here - set the conditions for Iraq to take care of itself. The large number of texts and journals that have been collected now comprise the foundation of the 'Tuz Medical Library'. Many thanks to everyone who contributed! You've made a significant and lasting impact. "
Email from 'Doc' Meyer, Friday, 26 March 2004:
How's everything? I haven't sent you much lately. I distributed approximately 2 dozen boxes of medical supplies, textbooks and journals yesterday to two of the main health clinics in the area (photos attached). I spent a few hours talking with Dr. Farhan from the town of Sulayman Bak. He's about 30 years old and lived his entire life in the immediate area. He went to school in Tikrit and returned to his hometown. He is provided a home and a very meager wage (~$120 per month). He speaks English very well so we were able to communicate without an interpreter. I asked him if he felt the contributions we were making were beneficial, and this was his response:
"What we are doing is for humanity. It doesn't matter if we are Arab, Kurdish, or Turkomen. It doesn't matter if we are American or Iraqi. You and I both look with our eyes and see the same things and understand this is not right. You see the primitive things we have. The right things are right for all of humanity. It's the same for all in God's eyes. For 35 years we have been denied all of this...I look at your eyes and I see humanity, and I know you believe this to be true. We are all grateful. We require these things to recover from 35 years of nothing. Anything you can provide we accept with gratefulness and in the name of God."
His response was sincere and gets to the heart of the matter. I think his response is much more significant than my opinion about what this means to Iraqis. As you know, ethnic tensions are high here which is why he spoke about that. He also asked if he could personally write a letter to some of the individuals in the US who donated items. Of course, I encouraged that. I explained that all the items I was able to bring to him were donated by individuals in the US who share that same common view of humanity. This is their way of putting politics, religion, and ethnicity and doing the right thing.
Saturday, 28 February 2004:
Major Joel Meyer is the Task Force Medical Officer for the 1-14th, "Golden Dragons", 25th Infantry Division. In early February, this unit took control of the area previously occupied by 1-508th, "Red Devils", 173rd Airborne Brigade. The area is near Tuz, approximately 100 miles north of Baghdad. As with all Coalition forces, Task Force Dragon's primary mission is to ensure security and stability in the region. The unit is heavily engaged in Civil Military Operations (CMO). CMO includes projects to improve Iraq's police force, schools, water, sanitation, electrical system, health care, roadways, etc. Major Meyer's focus is on the health care system.
The area of responsibility includes a hospital and 14 health clinics serving almost 50 towns and villages. Major Meyer works closely with local Iraqi leaders in the medical community assessing needs, determining priorities and coordinating work. The entire Iraqi medical system is severely lacking. The detrimental effects resulting from years of corruption and neglect under the previous regime of Saddam Hussein are immeasurable. Conditions in village clinics are so inferior to that which US citizens are accustomed; it would be unfathomable to receive medical treatment there. Yet, it is all the Iraqi people currently have available. Rebuilding will undoubtedly take many years. The most critical areas in immediate need of improvement are the state of facilities and infrastructure and the severe lack of supplies and equipment.
US forces have already begun making a difference. Several clinics have received basic repairs such as fixing broken windows and doors, patching leaky roofs, or painting rooms. Many areas are without adequate or reliable supplies of water and electricity. In some cases, modest living quarters have been provided adjacent to a clinic so medical staff from remote locations can be available on a regular basis. Improvements to the infrastructure such as this are the focus of the CMO. These projects don't address the lack of supplies and equipment.
Waiting Area 1
Interested individuals and organizations can help to bridge the enormous gap that currently exists. Most of the supplies, including pharmaceuticals, are either inadequate or totally absent. Shelves in clinics supporting 5000 people are stocked with only a few bandages and basic medications far less than that required. Much of the equipment is either broken, out-dated, or absent. Donated medical supplies and equipment have a tremendous and immediate positive impact. The Iraqi medical personnel who have received donations recently have been extraordinarily grateful. The physicians and staff in the clinics are selfless professionals doing the absolute best they can in the desperate conditions they find themselves. Many of the physicians have left potentially more lucrative positions abroad and returned to Iraq. Many have even returned to their "hometown", motivated by the hope of making a difference and helping the Iraqi people. Their need is tremendous-both in scope and quantity. Your donations are a very real and tangible means to help this struggling region continue on the long road of rebuilding itself and recovering from so many years of neglect.
Waiting Area 2
Maj Joel Meyer
Attn: Any Soldier
|Cpt Marlin Payne|
Attn: Any Soldier
Email of 28 Mar:
"Everything in Iraq is sandy, as usual. Any soldier has been great to everyone in my unit. I need a favor though, somehow I am getting an overload of nursing books. I have no use for them now. But they just keep coming. If you could please put out the word on your sight, I would appreciate it.