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Belizean, US officials make final preparations for Corozal MEDRETES

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Theresa Simonetti, Air Forces Southern Surgeon General medical planner, right, takes notes and gets contact information from the Chunox R.C. Pre-School principal March 24, 2014, in Chunox, Belize. The Chunox preschool is one of three locations in the Corozal area to be used as a temporary medical facility. Belizean and U.S. military medical professionals will share their training, expertise and knowledge with each other during medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, as they offer medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Theresa Simonetti, Air Forces Southern Surgeon General medical planner, right, takes notes and gets contact information from the Chunox R.C. Pre-School principal March 24, 2014, in Chunox, Belize. The Chunox preschool is one of three locations in the Corozal area to be used as a temporary medical facility. Belizean and U.S. military medical professionals will share their training, expertise and knowledge with each other during medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, as they offer medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

A teacher points to each of her students as they tell their names to Maj. S. Kellie Williams, New Horizons Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron deputy commander, March 24, 2014, at the Progresso R. C. School in Progresso, Belize. Williams and other U.S. military medical representatives visited three schools in the Corozal region in preparation for upcoming medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, which will incorporate the training and medical expertise of both Belizean and U.S. medical professionals as they learn from one another to provide medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

A teacher points to each of her students as they tell their names to Maj. S. Kellie Williams, New Horizons Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron deputy commander, March 24, 2014, at the Progresso R. C. School in Progresso, Belize. Williams and other U.S. military medical representatives visited three schools in the Corozal region in preparation for upcoming medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, which will incorporate the training and medical expertise of both Belizean and U.S. medical professionals as they learn from one another to provide medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Brandy Stocker, New Horizons Public Affairs broadcast journalist, shows children video footage of themselves March 24, 2014, during a visit to Progresso R. C. School in Progresso, Belize. Belizean government and U.S. military representatives visited three schools in the Corozal region in preparation for upcoming medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, which will incorporate the training and medical expertise of both Belizean and U.S. medical professionals as they learn from one another to provide medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Tech. Sgt. Brandy Stocker, New Horizons Public Affairs broadcast journalist, shows children video footage of themselves March 24, 2014, during a visit to Progresso R. C. School in Progresso, Belize. Belizean government and U.S. military representatives visited three schools in the Corozal region in preparation for upcoming medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, which will incorporate the training and medical expertise of both Belizean and U.S. medical professionals as they learn from one another to provide medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Students at the Progresso R.C. School play while U.S. military representatives meet with the school's principal March 24, 2014, in Progresso, Belize. The school is one of three locations in the Corozal area to be used as a temporary medical facility. Belizean and U.S. military medical professionals will share their training, expertise and knowledge with each other during medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, during medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, as they offer medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released/Released)

Students at the Progresso R.C. School play while U.S. military representatives meet with the school's principal March 24, 2014, in Progresso, Belize. The school is one of three locations in the Corozal area to be used as a temporary medical facility. Belizean and U.S. military medical professionals will share their training, expertise and knowledge with each other during medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, during medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, as they offer medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released/Released)

The principal of Libertad Methodist School  met with U.S. military representatives March 24, 2014, at the school in Libertad, Belize, to discuss the use of the school as a temporary medical facility during medical readiness training exercises with Belizean and U.S. military medical professionals. The military teams will work together and learn from one another during medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, as they provide care to the residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

The principal of Libertad Methodist School met with U.S. military representatives March 24, 2014, at the school in Libertad, Belize, to discuss the use of the school as a temporary medical facility during medical readiness training exercises with Belizean and U.S. military medical professionals. The military teams will work together and learn from one another during medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, as they provide care to the residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Maj. S. Kellie Williams, New Horizons Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron deputy commander, explains her medical occupational badge and her position in the U.S. Air Force to students at the Libertad Methodist School March 24, 2014, in Libertad, Belize. Williams and other U.S. military medical representatives visited three schools in the Corozal region in preparation for upcoming medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, which will incorporate the training and medical expertise of both Belizean and U.S. medical professionals as they learn from one another to provide medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Maj. S. Kellie Williams, New Horizons Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron deputy commander, explains her medical occupational badge and her position in the U.S. Air Force to students at the Libertad Methodist School March 24, 2014, in Libertad, Belize. Williams and other U.S. military medical representatives visited three schools in the Corozal region in preparation for upcoming medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, which will incorporate the training and medical expertise of both Belizean and U.S. medical professionals as they learn from one another to provide medical care to residents near Chunox, Progresso and Libertad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

COROZAL, Belize -- Belizean government and U.S. military officials met March 24 to discuss final preparations for the upcoming New Horizons medical readiness training exercises, or MEDRETES, in the Corozal region in Belize.

Belizean and military medical providers will use the MEDRETES as an opportunity to learn from one another as they provide medical care to residents out of schools in Chunox, Progresso and Libertad.

"The three schools agreed to let us use their facilities to provide medical care, so we reconnected with the principals to make sure everything was ready to go," said Lt. Col. James Smith, New Horizons chief liaison officer. Belizean and U.S. medical teams will work side by side "to provide general medicine, dentistry and veterinarian care to the local population" and their pets.

"New Horizons is an example of one of the humanitarian and disaster relief missions," Smith said. "Not only is it a way for us to provide direct medical care on an individual basis to the people of Belize, it allows us an opportunity to train."

For the past few months, the Belizean government and U.S. military representatives have coordinated these exercises to ensure the best possible care is provided to the locals while also providing valuable training opportunities for Belizean and U.S. medical professionals.

The final visit was to touch base with administrators at each school, said Pablo Gonzalez, Ministry of Education School Community Liaison Officer. "Permission has been granted by the Ministry of Education, [so we were] reiterating that the mission will take place, and it's very close."

The training exercises are a two-way partnership during which Belizean and U.S. participants can benefit from working with one another as they share knowledge in their respective specialties of general medicine, dental and veterinarian practices. Sharing lessons learned and best practices between the countries' medical professionals is advantageous to both countries as they strive to better the care provided.

"When it deals with getting things to the community, for example medical services or any other form of help and assistance to the community, our leaders are quite helpful for that," Gonzalez explained. "Getting permissions and planning has been smooth running because we see the need."

Belize was the site of New Horizons 2013, during which great benefits were seen on both the Belizean and U.S. military fronts.

"The people are what make the country," said Smith of his perception of Belize. The magnitude of "accomplishments they've made and the milestones they've met is great, and they've made great strides in the care they provide to their people.

Residents of all ages in regions near the schools can meet with medical providers and receive care at each of the three schools where Belizean and U.S. medical professionals will be stationed.

"I just want to encourage the community to come out," Gonzales said. "Take advantage of this opportunity" as Belizean and U.S. medical teams provide care in Chunox, Progresso and Libertad.

"The doctors will be waiting to assist you," he added.


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