Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo
Troops from the Indonesian army and the U.S. Army gave free medical treatment and dental screenings to over 200 local residents at a public health day held at the Kostrad Medical Clinic in Cilodong, Indonesia, in June 19.
The event was held at the close of Garuda Shield 13, a U.S. Army Pacific, or USARPAC, bi-lateral exercise between U.S. Army and the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Army, known as the TNI, which focused on developing the respective militaries’ ability to contribute to United Nations peace support.
More than a dozen military doctors, dentists and medics performed general health screenings and treated minor illnesses.
In the past, the TNI has only treated residents during natural disasters or emergencies, according to Dr. Langgeng, of the TNI 502nd Airborne Battalion, based in East Java.
They opened up the clinic during Garuda Shield so the local residents would have the opportunity to interact with U.S. Army medical personnel, he explained.
"We wanted to show the relationship we have with the U. S. Army, and with their assistance we are able to serve many people from our local community," Langgeng said.
Doctors diagnosed medical issues and dispensed medications to treat coughs, colds, fevers, pain and high blood pressure, as well as treating minor injuries.
More serious cases were referred to a local clinic or specialist, explained Lt. Col. (Dr.) Kien Tran, with the Hawaii-based 1984th U.S. Army Reserve Hospital.
"We came here to take care of U.S. soldiers during the exercise, but it’s a special treat to be able to assist our TNI counterpart’s address the basic health needs of their local community," said Tran.
"I came here today and find out I have high blood pressure, so now I am very happy TNI will give me medicine," Rodiah, a 65-year old Cilodong resident, said.
Tuti, a 24-year-old local resident brought her children, Evan, 3 and Angel, 1, because all three suffer from fever and coughs due to colds.
"I heard about the free clinic during an announcement at our mosque, and the doctor says we have colds, and my baby also has pain from teething, so I am happy he gives us medicine for all," Tuti explained.
While patients waited for treatment, TNI and U.S. Army medics, assisted by U.S. ROTC cadet nursing majors, taught other Indonesians how to identify dengue fever symptoms and treat common illnesses.
They also gave classes on personal hygiene, basic disease prevention and basic life-saving techniques such as the Heimlich maneuver.
Along with toothbrushes, tooth paste and floss, the cadets dispensed knowledge, teaching Indonesian children about dental hygiene like proper brushing techniques.
"Public Health is a part of nursing, and the opportunity to interact with the local community in Indonesia was what I was hoping to do here," said Cadet Jillian Boesch, who’s attending Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
Adding, "Knowing that helping these children learn better dental hygiene will give them a brighter smile when they grow up is something that will stay with me for a long time."
The majority of tooth brushes and dental hygiene products were donated by Honolulu, Hawaii, dental hygienist Michele McTague, the spouse of a U.S. Army Reserve soldier, and fellow dental hygienist Gerraine Hignite.
Dentists on site treated several patients and performed extractions and fillings for those most in need.
Garuda Shield 13 included planning and executing a combined brigade-level command post exercise based on a UN peacekeeping scenario, and a field-training exercise based on a peace keeping operation scenario.
The exercise, which took place June 10-21, involved troops from USARPAC; TNI, Kostrad 1st Division; 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division; and the TNI Angkatan Darat, 17th Airborne Brigade.
Along with a series of parachute jumps, about 500 paratroopers of both nations conducted infantry training and operations during the exercise, which included jungle survival training, weapons familiarization and marksmanship.
This marks the seventh iteration of this bilateral exercise since 2004.