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James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital - Tampa, Florida

 

CENTCOM Multinational Exchange

Military medical leaders from several countries watch a demonstration of adaptive equipment used at JAHVH for rehabilitation patients.

Military medical leaders from several countries watch a demonstration of adaptive equipment used at JAHVH for rehabilitation patients.

By Ed Drohan
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital recently hosted military medical leaders from 18 nations as part of U.S. Central Command’s Medical Security Cooperation Exchange.

Attendees at the exchange included those from five coalition partners – France, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Australia – as well as from 13 countries in the USCENTCOM area of operations.  These included representatives from the Central Asian states, such as Kazakhstan; the Levant, including Egypt and Iraq; and Persian Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates.

The exchange ran from April 2 through April 5, with participants visiting JAHVH April 4 and meeting at MacDill Air Force Base the rest of the time.  According to Army Col. Derek Licina, CENTCOM’s chief of Medical Security Cooperation, the exchange is an opportunity for all the attending nations to think through best practices when it comes to military medical operations.

“Think about the point of injury, all the way through the different echelons of care, the levels of care, from the forward field all the way back here to the support and services they would receive in a fixed medical facility, and then when they transfer over to the Veterans Administration,” Licina said.  “The other line of effort we’re focusing on is force health protection and preventive medicine.  That’s how it’s organized, leveraging both our experiences from the Middle East to the Central Asian states as well as Levant, and also our experiences here in the United States and with our coalition partners as well.”

The day at JAHVH included panels of experts talking about rehabilitative medicine plus a tour of the hospital’s polytrauma and rehabilitation facilities.  According to USCENTCOM Command Surgeon Air Force Col. J. Scott Calder, the visit was also intended to offer a deeper insight.

“Some of the countries have a culture that if you’re not a whole man, then perhaps you’re less valuable to society,” Calder said.  “We’re bringing them here to try and show them that a person can be highly functional, and there’s value to trying to save their lives.”

Military medical leaders from 18 countries listen to a panel discussion on rehabilitation techniques during the U.S. Central Command Medical Security Cooperation Exchange at JAHVH April 4.

Military medical leaders from 18 countries listen to a panel discussion on rehabilitation techniques during the U.S. Central Command Medical Security Cooperation Exchange at JAHVH April 4.

Stops on the tour included demonstrations and briefings on such topics as prosthetics, adaptive equipment for home use, and rehabilitative technology such as the exoskeleton that can help paraplegics walk.  In each case it was stressed that JAHVH personnel use everything from expensive, high tech equipment to items costing only a few dollars to help Veterans in rehabilitation.

“Our goal is to help our patients not just survive, but thrive,” JAHVH Director Joe Battle told the group.  “We want to help them live their best lives, and as long as they’re improving, we will treat them – often for decades.  Our relationships with patients are lifelong.”

The hospital visit was part of the conference that many participants looked forward to.

“I will see and experience what they have for rehabilitation, and also we can share our information because in Iraq there are many injured patients that we take care of,” said Maj. Gen. Laith Hekmat Zaki, deputy surgeon general for the Iraq Ministry of Defense.  “I can see what I can do in my country for our patients after seeing this conference.”

For one of his counterparts, the exchange and hospital visit was not only a way to exchange information and network with her counterparts in the region, but a chance enhance the friendship she has established with her American counterparts.

“We’ve had other encounters in the last year.  We’ve been working hard mostly with our American friends,” said United Arab Emirates Ministry of Defense Surgeon General Staff Col. Ayesha Al Dhaheri.  “I will call them friends because we did have an experience where an American actually gave some of our Soldiers blood, so we are actually brothers in blood.  We share a lot and we have a lot in common.”

 

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