An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Air Force medical team benchmarks first LAMAT mission to St. Vincent

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rachel Maxwell
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

Under the direction of U.S. Southern Command, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) successfully pioneered its first Lesser Antilles Medical Assistance Team mission to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, March 4–12.

The team of 34 active duty and reserve Airmen traveled to St. Vincent to work closely with their host nation medical counterparts in an effort to hone skills through mutual training and education while ultimately benefiting patient care.

“We came here with the mission of providing needed medical care for the communities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Lt. Col. Jessica Arcilla, troop commander. “But we have achieved more than that in the short time that we’ve spent here on the island working side-by-side with this country’s experienced providers.”

Throughout the 10-day mission, the team treated over 500 patients, providing services that amounted to approximately $800,000 in free medical care. LAMAT members also disseminated needed medical supplies amounting to $186,000 to local healthcare facilities.

“Words are not enough to express gratitude to you for the resources you have brought with you and which will remain with us in our healthcare system,” said Cuthbert Knights, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment. 

“We are a very resilient country, a very resilient population, but that resilience requires that we acknowledge that we can’t do this alone,” said Dr. Simone Keizer Beache, chief medical officer to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “The Ministry of Health’s motto is, ‘your health is a shared responsibility,’ and this is how we work.”

LAMAT not only seeks to strengthen cooperation between the U.S. and its partner nations, it capitalizes upon the unique local environment, serving as a readiness mission to better prepare Air Force personnel for deployments to austere environments.  

“You taught us how to be inventive, resourceful, creative and better problem solvers,” said Arcilla during the mission’s closing ceremony. “Thanks to what our counterparts in St. Vincent have taught us, we have become better doctors, nurses, medics, technicians, dentists, logisticians and administrators.”

Notably, the LAMAT orthopedic team performed St. Vincent's first-ever knee arthroscopy surgery. The procedure is used for diagnosing and treating joint problems by inserting a small camera that allows a surgeon to see inside the joint without making a large incision.

“This mission is not just a testament to our shared commitment to health and wellbeing, but also to the enduring partnership between the United States and St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” stated U.S Coast Guard Cmdr. Jamie Collins, U.S. Embassy in Barbados senior defense official. “Let us look forward to a future filled with promise and possibility, where the bonds between our countries grow ever stronger.”

The LAMAT 2024 mission has impacted over 2,200 patients across three locations, including Suriname, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, with additional medical teams set to support St. Kitts and Nevis this coming week and progressing until the end of March.