Airman Helps Afghans Get Well

By Staff Sgt. Joshua Jasper, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Oct. 25, 2007 - Children line the streets during the short ride to the village. Adults with noticeable disabilities and young children who may have never had professional medical assistance look curiously at the visitors, probably wondering why they have come. Despite this lack of professional medical care, one of those visitors has been making a positive difference for local villagers.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joy Flumerfelt, a squadron medical element/independent medical technician, deployed here from the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., is currently working with the 336th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.

Although, her main concern is the care of deployed servicemembers, she also provides medical support to local communities. Since arriving here a little more than a month ago, she has treated nearly 100 villagers.

"We (independent medical technicians) function as providers, so we can practice medicine to a greater degree than medics can," Flumerfelt said.

Thanks to this capability, Flumerfelt has the opportunity to regularly provide medical assistance to local communities. "Since I started, the villagers seem to be a lot more receptive to medical care and supportive of Americans in general," she said.

The conditions she treats have ranged from a simple rash to broken bones and tumors, as on a recent trip to a nearby village.

"I examined an old man who had a massive tumor across his brow," Flumerfelt said. "The tumor was open and had taken his sight on one side. It was hard to imagine how painful it must have been for this man, who had been plagued with this illness for three years. I have been talking with the plastic surgeon on base to see if we can get him the medical assistance that he needs."

Flumerfelt said the villagers are very appreciative of what she does for them. So much so that she hasn't seen one villager yet who has not thanked her for the assistance she has provided.

"I am amazed at how simple a life that these people live. It makes me realize how easy it can be to take the medical care that we receive back home for granted," Flumerfelt said. "I am happy to give these people the assistance that they need, and I look forward to helping many more before I go home."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Jasper is assigned to 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)

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