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New Horizons - Nicaragua 2007 finishes MEDRETE missions

Lt. Col. John Blackburn examines a Nicaraguan volunteer policeman's eyes March 19 at a makeshift optometry clinic at Collegio San Gregorio. Inside the local school, 836 Nicaraguan patients were given free medical, dental and optometry care during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise as part of New Horizons-Nicaragua 2007. Colonel Blackburn is an optometrist with the California Air National Guard's 144th Medical Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason T. Bailey)

Lt. Col. John Blackburn examines a Nicaraguan volunteer policeman's eyes March 19 at a makeshift optometry clinic at Collegio San Gregorio. Inside the local school, 836 Nicaraguan patients were given free medical, dental and optometry care during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise as part of New Horizons-Nicaragua 2007. Colonel Blackburn is an optometrist with the California Air National Guard's 144th Medical Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason T. Bailey)

SANTA TERESA, Nicaragua (AFNEWS) -- Medics from California Air National Guard's 144th Medical Group treated 7,899 patients to complete the third and final Medical Readiness Training Exercise March 28 for New Horizons Nicaragua - 2007.

New Horizons - Nicaragua 2007 is a $7.25 million joint military humanitarian and training exercise where the lead unit, teh 820th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, provided a new school and a new medical clinic. Three MEDRETE teams where assigned to the 820th and worked with personnel from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health to provide free health and veterinary care to communities in rural areas around Santa Teresa, Nicaragua.

"This kind of work is very gratifying," said Lt. Col. Ted Inouye, the commander of the final MEDRETE said. "And the people really appreciate what we do."

"I could never repay you for the gift you've provided to our community," said Nandaime Mayor Augustine Chavez after the MEDRETE team visited the town.

During the final MEDRETE mission, about 30 medics provided care in Diriamba, Nandaime and La Conquista. They filled 22,921 prescriptions, pulled 473 teeth and issued 1,466 pairs of eyeglasses.

Since the first MEDRETE started Feb. 19, medics treated more than 20,000 people. Altogether, the three teams filled 53,036 prescriptions, pulled 1,759 teeth and issued 3,629 glasses. The prior MEDRETEs provided care in Huehuete, Roman Esteban, Nandaime, La Pita, El Sol and Santa Teresa.

In conjunction with the MEDRETEs, veterinary teams carried out Veterinary Readiness Training Exercises. The first VETRETE vaccinated and treated 3,372 animals. The second one treated 1,930 animals and the final one treated 3,007 animals.

"[The medics] did an outstanding job," said Lt. Col. Aaron Young, 820th RED HORSE commander. "Also, it was a great joint training opportunity to work with our good friends in the Nicaraguan military and the Ministry of Health."