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Afghan President Karzai honors Air Force surgeon

by Staff Sgt. Carlos Diaz
U.S. Central Command Air Forces public affairs

4/2/2007 - CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan (AFNEWS) -- The command surgeon for the Combined Security Transition Command, Col. Donald Thompson received the Ghazi Mir Bacha Khan High Medal recently.

The award was presented by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in appreciation of outstanding military and civil services rendered by Colonel Thompson.

Within the presidential decree, President Karzai stated, "I approve the awarding to Mr. Donald F. Thompson, head of coalition forces healthcare in Afghanistan, in honor of his services; who has performed important and valuable health services in our country."

Colonel Thompson has been deployed for more than a year and has worked with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

"I've taken a particular interest in improving the healthcare delivery system in the civilian sector also," Colonel Thompson said.

Afghanistan's healthcare reconstruction is at the stage where they can impact the prioritization of where the funds go, he said.

The colonel's focus was on improving the healthcare for the military, police and their dependents by also putting money into the civilian sector, which - in turn - improves the care available to the average Afghan civilian.

The government of Afghanistan is making progress, the 25-year Air Force member said.

"I'm using resources that the Defense Department provides to encourage the growth of the government by encouraging different ministries to work together."

Several key healthcare projects have been funded.

"By carefully applying this money to public health projects," the colonel said, "we've enabled the ministries of agriculture and public health to work together to strengthen their abilities to support efforts that are taking place in the provinces."

This effort demonstrates that by selectively applying funds in ways that encourage the Afghans to work together has produced great dividends.

Colonel Thompson said President Karzai realizes that the U.S. military's presence in Afghanistan is doing more than simply fighting terrorists with combat arms.

"The president and the Minister of Public Health recognize that reconstruction and development are really going to be the key to winning the war against terrorism over the long term.

"I accepted the medal on behalf of all military medics who are working to rebuild Afghanistan," Colonel Thompson said.

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