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CJTF-Hait extends helping hand to Haitian people

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 5/25/2004

Story by Sgt. Ryan S. Scranton

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI(May 25, 2004) -- Marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers from Combined Joint Task Force-Haiti working alongside Haitian medical professionals provided assistance to more than 400 Haitians during a Medical Civic Action Program May 13.

Personnel from Marine Air Ground Task Force - 8 and Combat Service Support Detachment - 20, here supporting CJTF-Haiti, as well as medical staff members from the Haitian National Police and a local hospital, treated patients on a walk-in basis at a clinic set-up at a police station in the Bel-Air District.

"It feels good helping out people in a country where people can't help themselves," said Seaman Wayne A Morstad, a corpsman with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. The clinic set up at the Haitian National Police Dispensary helped rebuild an important bond with the community that had been broken.

"This has been a wonderful thing, it will help our image as a professional police force," said Harry Brossard, the HNP's director of medical services.

After years of reported corruption and abuse by the HNP, the force is working to rebuild its reputation with the community.

"This civil and military joint venture will help tremendously in getting the word out to the people that the police force has changed, and we are here to help them."

Another bridge was also being built, one that connects the Haitian people with Multinational Interim Force - Haiti.

"The things we did today definitely helped to reestablish and strengthen ties between the Haitian people and the forces here," said Capt. Scott A. Criss, with the Multinational Interim Force. "It's a bridge of trust we are building today," he explained.

The medical personnel, working out of the impromptu clinic, were able to treat approximately 40 obstetric and gynecology patients as well as more than 135 children and 230 others in need of care.

"I think today went great," said Sgt. First Class Scott Bartollo, a Special Forces medic with the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion who helped coordinate the clinic. "We helped a lot of people today, that's what's important."

Bartollo is one of many who find gratification in knowing that they are able to provide assistance to people with very little material wealth, but who are rich in character.

"It feels good to help them out because I know that they are capable of great things," Bartollo explained. "The Haitian people are a proud and strong people who have endured many years of struggle, but they still have hope."

Although hope may have been all the Haitian people had to cling to while they endured that time of struggle, times have changed with a helping hand extended to them by the MIFH.

"Today's clinic has added to another chapter in building a stronger relationship between us and the Haitian people," Criss said. "Everything that we did today is just part of the mission in bringing about a more stable and prosperous future for Haiti."

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