31st MEU Provides Medical, Dental Assistance in Philippines

23 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. Micheal A. Bianco

More than 50 Republic of the Philippines service members and 22 Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, joined together to participate in four Medical and Dental Civil Action Projects at locations throughout the Republic of the Philippines April 16-22 in support of Balikatan 2009.

The two nations’ service members visited schools in the regions of Ternate and Dingalan to provide medical and dental care to more than 2,400 residents over the course of seven days.  More than 1,900 of these were medical patients, while nearly 500 received dental care.

Each school had a similar set up with each of five class rooms representing stations specializing in a different aspect of treatment: vital signs, general medicine, wounds, dental and a pharmacy. When registering for care, the patients indicated whether they desired to be seen for medical care, dental care or both. Once registered, men, women and children of all ages made their way to the vital signs room to get their temperature and blood pressure read. After completion, patients proceeded to the appropriate station, depending on individual symptoms.

Patients with oral concerns were directed to the dental room, where Filipino and U.S. dentists and dental technicians were performing cleanings and pulling teeth.

Even with all the care and attention patients were receiving, they weren’t the only ones benefiting from the experience.

According to Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas Santos, a U.S. Navy corpsman with CLB-31, 31st MEU, the doctors and corpsmen walked away with just as much as the patients did.

“You learn a lot from these events,” said the Houston native. “We help people. We learn their culture, make friends and are able to learn from the Filipino docs.”

Capt. Daniel Paulino, a medical officer with the Republic of the Philippines Navy Medical Corps, echoed Santos.  “Working with our American counterparts allows us to exchange know-how and procedures. I saw our corpsmen and the U.S. guys practicing with IVs (intravenous infusions) and it put a smile on my face knowing we have so much we can offer each other,” he said.

The MEDCAPs and DENCAPs were conducted in support of Balikatan 2009.  Balikatan ’09 is an annual bilateral training event which focuses heavily on humanitarian assistance and community relations projects which allow both Republic of the Philippines and U.S. military members to provide relief and assistance to Filipino communities most in need. 


31st Marine Expeditionary Unit