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Navy Lt. Mickey Deel, a 30-year-old medical officer with Task Force 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, examines an Iraqi woman’s eyes during a specialized Combined Medical Engagement at the Saqlawiyah Clinic, Nov. 18. Deel used a Slit Lamp, a high-intensity light source which provides a magnified view of different parts of the human eye to help determine a prescription for eyeglasses.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

HOPE in sight

18 Nov 2008 | Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

The Saqlawiyah City Council, local Iraqi Police and Coalition forces facilitated a specialized Combined Medical Engagement (CME) at the Saqlawiyah Clinic, Nov. 18.

The engagement was the first Iraqi and Coalition force effort to diagnose and treat eyesight issues among the populous, fitting local Iraqis with more than 400 pairs of prescription eyewear.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tomlinson, the chaplain for Task Force 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, worked with a network of battalion family members to request the eyeglasses from Humanitarian Optical Prescription Endeavor (HOPE).

HOPE is a stateside charitable organization intended to provide less fortunate people around the world with prescription eyeglasses to enhance their quality of life.

During the CME, Navy Lt. Mickey Deel, a 30-year-old medical officer from Haysi, Va., examined Iraqis using a Slit Lamp, a high-intensity light source which provides a magnified view of different parts of the eye.

Deel said prescribing eyewear was something unique and different when compared to other CME’s the battalion has helped coordinate. 

“In the past, we’ve only dealt with acute issues and provided (short-term) medicine and care,” explained Deel. “This CME was unique because this is something that will help people for years.”

Dr. Ayad Al-Hadithy, a government-employed medical doctor, runs the busy medical clinic, where he and his staff treat hundreds of patients each week despite a shortage of supplies and equipment.

 Ayad and his medical assistants aided in determining the proper prescription for the Iraqis.

“It was a great thing to be able to use the technology to help so many people,” said Ayad. “Something that would normally take weeks or months to do with our equipment was accomplished in a matter of hours.”

Ayad said the CME was a big success, thanks to extensive planning by the city council, and to the professionalism of Iraqi Police and Coalition forces providing security for the event.

The Iraqi Police provided the bulk of security along surrounding roads while Marines with Company B, Task Force 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, RCT-1, served in an over-watch and advisory role.

Progress in the cities’ security has allowed the local Iraqi leadership to focus their efforts on providing a “transition to a self reliant and sustainable government and an economy able to provide the essential services their community needs,” said Sgt. Tim Maurer, a 25-year-old squad leader from Fairhope, Ala., with the company,

The community is also growing to trust in the abilities of their leaders and what their city council is capable of accomplishing, added Maurer. Governmental support by Iraq’s citizens is a key element in continuing to defeat insurgents who may try to exploit people.

“The community supports the police and their local governments and the success of events like the CME makes the progress evident,” said Maurer.