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Juneau, 31st MEU Medical Personnel Complete MEDCAP

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070227-09
Release Date: 2/27/2007 5:13:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Adam R. Cole, Task Force 76 Public Affairs

OLONGOPO CITY, Philippines (NNS) -- USS Juneau (LPD 10) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) medical personnel treated more than 1,000 Filipino people here Feb. 24 as part of a medical civic action project with members of the Philippine Navy (PN).

Medical and dental professionals diagnosed patient maladies, handed out medicine and completed a handful of minor surgeries, including removing wisdom and other infected teeth.

Citizens of the Barretto Barangay, a district within Olongopo City, flooded into the area’s central pavilion, where medical personnel saw patients -- 70 percent of whom were children -- from early morning to late afternoon.

“We are so happy for the U.S. Navy to be here,” said Ellen Gnawina, a mother of 10 children.

For most of the people in this barangay, medicine and regular check ups are a luxury that they can’t afford, according to a number of patients seen by the Navy visitors. An informal survey of the woman gathered at the pavilion said their husbands only make about 300 pesos, or about $6, a day.

Erlinda Buraso’s husband drives a taxi for a living which has left the family lacking in resources to devote to medical care. Her son had been complaining of a tooth ache for six months; the PN dentist removed it. She was very thankful for both navies for providing the services.

“Just in us being here, providing the medicine, showing that we care brightens their lives up -- at least for today,” said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (FMF) Ronald C. Eusebio, with the 31st MEU's Battalion Landing Team 2nd Marine/1st Battalion.

Eusebio is originally from Cavite, so the outreach effort was a special opportunity for him.

“I’m glad I can make a difference for Filipino people, people who I have a very close connection with. It means a lot to me to be able to come back here to do this for them,” he said.

Those from both navies said that the high number of people being treated in one day could not have happened without the cooperation of each other. In addition, the volunteers at the project site served a key role in translating and facilitating patient needs, said Lt. Jeremy Moore, Juneau’s senior medical officer.

“This is a total team effort in all respects. [The] benefactors of that team work are clearly the Filipino people of Barretto,” said Moore.

Equally pleased was Barretto Barangay Capt. (district leader) Carlito A. Baloy.

“Helping hands are always welcome here,” said Baloy. “You can sense the impact on the people. They are 101 percent happy.”

Juneau, commanded by Capt. John D. Alexander, is part of the Sasebo, Japan-based Essex Expeditionary Strike Group, which serves under Task Force 76. Task Force 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force and is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo.

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