Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau Participates in MEDCAP

PALAWAN, Philippines – The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau, currently on a Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) operation in Southeast Asia, helped execute a number of community relations and medical events here.

Along with CARAT training that took place on land and aboard ship, Morgenthau sent six medically-trained crewmembers to give medical care to local people and their animals. Crewmembers, who also took part in the Medical Civil Action Program (MEDCAP), went to 19 different villages in Aborlan, Palawan.

The crewmembers were joined by 15 U.S. Navy sailors, two U.S. Army soldiers, one Philippine Air Force member, two Philippine Navy sailors and 20 local civilian volunteers. They were also joined by 20 Philippine Marines, who provided the medical personnel protection. In three days, the multi-agency team performed 2,300 medical procedures to include minor out-patient surgeries and circumcisions. They provided care to more than a 1,200 patients, and included dental and eye care, where they dispensed 596 pairs of reading glasses. There was also a veterinarian onscene who vaccinated mor than 150 animals and livestock.

MEDCAP is a medical support mission and is not a new concept for military operations, nor is it unique to the U.S. military. U.S. MEDCAP missions were established shortly after operations following World War II. During the Vietnam War, MEDCAP missions were directed toward providing medical care and supplies to local people who otherwise would not receive care. The main missions of MEDCAP are to provide high-quality, first-level medical and dental screening, provide integrated training opportunities for Allied medical units, provide opportunities for all military soldiers to better understand individual country assets and to serve as “presence patrol,” creating conditions favorable to encouraging displaced person returns and enhanced force protection for soldiers.

“Doing MEDCAP is one of the most rewarding experiences I can have in my lifetime,” said Chief Petty Officer Elfren Colinco, a health services technician for the cutter Morgenthau. “I get to make a positive difference in the life of infants, children, adults and the elderly. I feel this type of mission is one of the reasons most people join the Coast Guard and I get to do it in seven different countries,” he said.

Morgenthau crewmembers, the U.S. Navy and Philippine Navy, and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) provided more than 21 hours of community service. They delivered sewing machines and wheel chairs, sports equipment and they got the chance to interact with local children. They also repainted four of the Puerto Princesa Pilot Elementary School buildings during one of the projects.

“It’s a good feeling to see kids be so grateful and so excited over brand new basketballs,” said Seaman Gilbert Blancarte, a deck force member aboard the cutter Morgenthau. “It makes me feel like we made a positive difference in these children’s lives by bringing them things they usually don’t have the luxury of,” he said.

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