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21st MDG supports Central American medical exercise

An advance 21st Medical Group site survey team, led by Lt. Col. Rich Eddington, inspects a local school in May to be used as one of three medical treatment sites in San Miguel, El Salvador. The 21 MDG Medical Readiness Training Exercise team is deployed in the Central American country, providing free medical care to the El Salvadoran people. The team is providing medical support June 18 - July 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Denise Miranda)

An advance 21st Medical Group site survey team, led by Lt. Col. Rich Eddington, inspects a local school in May to be used as one of three medical treatment sites in San Miguel, El Salvador. The 21 MDG Medical Readiness Training Exercise team is deployed in the Central American country, providing free medical care to the El Salvadoran people. The team is providing medical support June 18 - July 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/1st Lt. Denise Miranda)

6/20/2008 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A 10-person team from the 21st Medical Group departs June 21 for a two-week medical readiness training exercise in San Miguel, El Salvador.

The U.S. Southern Command exercise, known as a MEDRETE, supports thousands of indigent villagers who may not have seen medical care in years while also providing medical training for 21st MDG Airmen and the host nation's military and medical professionals.

"This cooperative, combined training provides both countries outstanding skills-building experience for their health care providers, and more importantly helps the people of the host nation," said Lt. Col. Richard Eddington, the team's leader.

The team provides acute and general medical and dental care, preventive medicine, women's health and optometry services. More than $40,000-worth of medical supplies has been forwarded to El Salvador to support the mission, which is slated to provide care for 700 patients each day.

"Our plan is to see more than 6,000 patients in nine days of care in some of the most rural and poor areas of El Salvador," said Colonel Eddington. "The majority of these patients currently have no access to regular medical, dental or optometric care. Many will present a challenge to our skills, thus providing a unique training opportunity in deployed medicine."

Working at three different San Miguel elementary schools, the medical personnel practice the critical skills of their specialties as well as the military skills of deployment and redeployment. The MEDRETE also affords the opportunity to work with other militaries, civilian personnel and agencies, as the mission is a cooperative effort involving the local government, ministry of health, U.S. Southern Command officials, interpreters, logistic liaisons and 21st SW medical staff..

In this MEDRETE, the people of the host nation, the host nation military, and the participating U.S. military medical professionals will all benefit by improving their abilities to work in partnership for the Americas.

"I am thrilled to be a part this exciting and rewarding opportunity. We have a great team," said Tech. Sgt. Kelli Remmert, non-commissioned officer in charge of optometry services.

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