LANDSTUHL, Germany – More than 50 Soldiers from across the United States are supporting operations at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, contributing to the ongoing mission of providing medical care to Afghan evacuees currently in Germany.
For more than a month, Soldiers ranging in professions ranging from interpreters to medics, have augmented staff at LRMC in support of operations at the hospital and across Germany, including Ramstein Air Base and the Rhine Ordnance Barracks, which housed up to 12,000 and 5,000 Afghan evacuees at one time, respectively.
The mission, which is part of the Army’s overall efforts in support of Operation Allies Welcome, in coordination with the Department of State and Homeland Security, provides essential medical care during reception, treatment and the transfer of Afghan evacuees to the United States.
At the Rhine Artillery Barracks, also known as ROB, a few medical stations are set up among the sprawling tent town of the military installation, where medical professionals from various units care for and treat the evacuees for 24 hours. / 24 and 7/7.
“I flew on August 26, so I supported the mission at LRMC, Ramstein Air Base and Rhine Ammunition Barracks,” US Army Major Regina Velasco said, an obstetrics nurse assigned to the Bassett Army Community Hospital in Fort Wainwright, Alaska. . âWe make sure that they are aware of the health care services available and that they can feel safe when they come to the medical tent when they need it. “
In addition to supporting ROB’s medical efforts, Velasco has expanded to other sections of the LRMC where extra hands are needed in response to the sudden surge in patient numbers.
“The [Soldiers] were taken out [to Germany] to support the missions entrusted to us. Some of us support medical / surgical, labor and delivery, and OB / GYN, âsaid Velasco, from O’ahu, Hawaii. âIt was a great opportunity to work with [Afghan evacuees] also being able to let them know that we care about their well-being and let them know that they can trust us for their health.
The sudden demand for OAW support also tested the readiness and ability of the US Army Medical Force to respond to unexpected operations with little notice.
“There were only a few days left to prepare for the deployment and get everything in order,” said US Army Capt.Daniel Braun, a native of Pensacola, Fla., And a medico-surgical nurse assigned to the community hospital in Benning Martin Army at Fort Benning, Ga. “It was quite an impressive and rewarding experience to come to Germany, having the opportunity to take care of these patients and to learn from their experiences has been a rewarding experience.”
Additionally, the support of the entire Army has allowed LRMC to continue to support the larger U.S. military community outside of the United States, particularly in high demand medical specialties.
Specialized medical requirements are often overlooked during mass evacuation efforts like Afghanistan, says U.S. Army Capt. Iris Evans, a certified nurse midwife also assigned to Benning Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning. The main concern may be getting evacuees to a safe location.
Chicago native, who helped deliver two evacuated Afghan newborns, says women’s medical needs are high as most Afghan women are not used to receiving the type of health care standardized by cultures Western.
Additionally, having health care providers, like Evans, is culturally appropriate as it is normal for Afghan women to work and deliver at home to avoid contact with male medical personnel, which has led Afghanistan to have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. .
âThey’re not used to men providing care to them other than their husbands,â Evans said. âHaving a female provider, especially a women’s health nurse practitioner or midwife, to provide this care is phenomenal. “
For other reinforcements, the mission is described as both a homecoming and a call.
“I am fortunate to be returning to the unit where I worked while stationed here,” said US Army Sgt. Brittany Koppenhaver, a practical nursing specialist at Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson, Colorado, who was previously assigned to LRMC’s Women’s Health Department between 2016 and 2018. âThe mission almost fell on my knees when the army needed a [practical nursing specialist] with maternal experience. I got out of here shortly after, boots hitting the ground as I ran.
“Missions like these are the reason I joined the military, I don’t just help protect and serve my own. [compatriots], but others too, âsaid the Fayetteville, North Carolina native. âTo be able, in a situation, where I can provide service and care to evacuated Afghan families who have little or nothing at all, is an honor and I am blessed and grateful to be a part of. those caring hands. “