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GHE brings humanitarian assistance and medical care to Guatemalans

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shelby Pruitt-Johnson
  • Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

A Global Health Engagement conducted by Joint Task Force-Bravo in conjunction with Guatemala’s State Partnership Program counterpart, the Arkansas National Guard’s 188th Wing, and the Guatemalan military, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food, served communities in the remote villages near Livingston, Guatemala, May 13-16, 2024.

Global Health Engagements are exercises between the Department of Defense and partner nations that build trust and confidence, share information, coordinate mutual activities and achieve interoperability in support of United State's priorities.

U.S. Southern Command employed this GHE for readiness training designed to provide humanitarian assistance and medical care to Guatemalans in need while improving the skills of U.S. military and Guatemalan medical, veterinary and surgical professionals. 

JTF-Bravo focused on the northern coast of Guatemala, particularly in the villages of Miramar, Plan Grande Tatin, and Plan Grande Quehueche, which have been identified as areas in severe need of medical and veterinary support.

Since 1993, these engagements have been a part of USSOUTHCOM’s enduring partnership with Central America and have been conducted throughout the region.

Last year, JTF-Bravo’s Medical Detachment conducted 150 missions, treating more than 22,000 patients and 8,000 animals.

For this engagement, JTF-Bravo and its partners delivered care with three teams: medical, veterinary and the Forward Surgical Section.  

The medical team provided services such as basic health screenings, public health education, pharmaceuticals, and dental extractions. During the 4-day exercise, the medical team treated more than 500 patients.

The veterinary team administered vaccinations, blood sampling, vitamins and deworming for 1,176 birds and 401 pigs.

At the National Friendship Hospital Japan-Guatemala in Puerto Barrios, the Forward Surgical Section assisted in six surgeries.

Over 40 U.S. military medical, veterinary and surgical professionals participated in Guatemala’s GHE including the Arkansas National Guard’s 188th Wing.

"We, as a state partner, are here for the long haul,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas DeGraff, 189th Medical Operations Squadron commander. “The 188th Wing hopes to have more opportunities in the future to help our friends in Central America with medical needs." 

Arkansas and Guatemala were matched in the DOD National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program in 2002. The entire program started in 1993 to facilitate security cooperation across international civil-military affairs and encourages people-to-people ties at the state level.

Global Health Engagements like Guatemala’s continue to help cultivate common bonds and foster goodwill between the U.S. and regional nations by conducting humanitarian assistance to improve the well-being of the community’s people and animals.

“There is no way, we as a community can ever thank the U.S. military and all other organizations who helped us enough,” said Felix Cal, a local Guatemala representative. “The services provided were priceless and our doors are always open.”