Local sailor makes a difference in Guatemala

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Lee of Phoenix performs an ultrasound in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. (U.S. Navy photo)

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Lee of Phoenix is among the members of Continuing Promise 2018, a force deployed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet to conduct civil-military operations in Central and South America.

The Continuing Promise 2018 team reached its mid-deployment mark in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, on April 11.

According to a U.S. Department of the Navy release, CP-18 has provided medical, dental, environmental and veterinary care, which includes preventive treatments, optometry screenings and women’s health services. Civil military operations, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, also have been a part of the mission in Honduras and Guatemala.

The united effort of U.S. forces and host nation participants midway through the deployment resulted in the treatment of more than 11,500 patients, the release stated. Veterinarian care was provided to more than 1,200 animals with 155 surgeries during mission visits in Honduras and Guatemala.

“This mission stop gave us the ability to engage and improve interoperability with our partner nations’ medical and civic assistance teams,” said Capt. Angel Cruz, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 40. “Our team has impacted thousands of patients’ lives and those interactions provided an invaluable opportunity to learn together with our allies.”

The CP-18 surgical team has worked alongside Honduran and Guatemalan surgeons and nurses to perform more than 70 surgeries.

“Continuing Promise 2018 has been a very rewarding experience for not only me, but our entire surgical team,” said Cmdr. Jeanne Lewandowski, surgery lead for CP-18. “The 65 or so sailors who work at the surgical site’s Expeditionary Medical Unit give their all and truly enjoy working with the Guatemalan and Honduran doctors and nurses.”

For more information, visit www.navy.mil.

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