Airmen, Soldiers to provide medical care to thousands of Belizeans during New Horizons 2014

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By Master Sgt. Kelly Ogden, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs / Published February 20, 2014

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) --

Airmen and Soldiers from Air Forces Southern, the 355th Medical Group and the 349th Combat Support Hospital here readied medical personnel, packed supplies and shipped medical equipment that will be used in treating thousands of patients in support of their upcoming deployment to Belize for New Horizons 2014.

"We are so incredibly grateful to the Belizean government for all of the exceptional support they provided in the planning of this exercise and we look forward to once again joining forces on the ground in a few short weeks," said Lt. Col. James Smith, the 12th Air Force (AFSOUTH) deputy command surgeon.

During last year's exercise in Belize, Air Force and Army medical teams worked side-by-side with Canadian doctors, the Ministry of Health in Belize, as well as Belizean doctors and medical personnel to provide care for more than 14,828 Belizeans during the medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES.

A group of highly-skilled professional medical personnel will soon come together once again to provide routine and essential medical treatment to more than 15,000 Belizeans.

"The U.S., Canada and Belize have pulled some of the best-of-the-best together to form this year's joint and multi-national medical team," said Col. Bruce Edwards, the New Horizons Belize Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron commander. "Our team is looking forward to growing partnerships, sharing information, and training with our Canadian and Belizean medical colleagues."

Medical services provided during this year's exercise will include general health, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, dental and dermatology.

The MEDRETES will take place in Belize City and Corozal. Medical personnel will also be setting up in remote locations throughout the jungle and in local villages to provide indispensable care to Belize's indigenous population.

"This training will improve our skills to provide essential and emergency care during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts throughout the globe," Edwards said. "Medical practitioners will receive training that helps them prepare for overseas deployments by providing care to people in rural areas that may not have had easy access to healthcare in the past."

New Horizons, an annual U.S. Southern Command sponsored exercise, began in the mid-1980s. The exercise objective is to train military civil engineers and medical professionals to deploy and conduct joint operations. Since its inception, Airmen and members of other services working under U.S.SOUTHCOM have built schools, community centers, provided medical care and much more to form partnerships between the U.S. and Central American, South American and Caribbean nations.

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