Author Affiliation: Larrabee Center for Facial Plastic Surgery and Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle.
On December 21, 1972, at 12:29 AM, Managua, Nicaragua, was devastated by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake. Eighty percent of the city was damaged, 5000 individuals died, and 20 000 more were injured. At that time, I was Director of Civic Action and Disaster Relief for the US Military Southern Command headquartered in the Panama Canal Zone. Later that morning our initial team arrived to survey the damage and initiate relief efforts. That Saturday still stands out in my mind because of the rapid and efficient response of the US military. Requests were communicated to the United States, and by the next morning transport planes were landing to bring operating rooms, medical equipment and supplies, drugs, and additional personnel. Hours after the planes landed, facilities were in place to begin treatment of the injured. Medical staff from the United States integrated easily with local medical physicians and military medical staff from the Southern Command, as well as international volunteers such as Peace Corps nurses.
The US military has unparalleled systems to deliver critical surgical services rapidly almost anywhere in the world. In addition, its personnel are superbly trained to provide acute medical and surgical care in difficult geographical areas. The military has proven in mission after mission that their medical staff are also dedicated humanitarians who work well with local health care providers and other civilian volunteers. Although much has changed in the last 40 years, the superb logistical ability of the US military and the skill and dedication of its medical staff remain.1,2
In this short Commentary, it is not possible to cover the spectrum of humanitarian missions performed by and in conjunction with the military; however, 2 representative individuals who have contributed significantly will provide different personal perspectives. Thomas G. Crabtree, MD,3 has organized and participated in many humanitarian missions. He helped create the Pacific World Care project, which provides treatment for children with craniofacial deformities from around the Pacific Rim. While deployed to Iraq, he worked to create rural outreach clinics for primary care and specialty referrals that continue today. His insights into the developing capabilities of the US military in humanitarian missions are of note. G. Richard Holt, MD,4 has likewise been involved in many organized missions. His experience validates the model of civilian-military cooperation.
Published Online: May 15, 2012. doi:10.1001/archfacial.2012.400.
Correspondence: Dr Larrabee, Larrabee Surgical Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, 600 Broadway, Ste 280, Seattle, WA 98125 (email@example.com).
Financial Disclosure: None reported.
Thank you for submitting a comment on this article. It will be reviewed by JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery editors. You will be notified when your comment has been published. Comments should not exceed 500 words of text and 10 references.
Do not submit personal medical questions or information that could identify a specific patient, questions about a particular case, or general inquiries to an author. Only content that has not been published, posted, or submitted elsewhere should be submitted. By submitting this Comment, you and any coauthors transfer copyright to the journal if your Comment is posted.
* = Required Field
Disclosure of Any Conflicts of Interest*
Indicate all relevant conflicts of interest of each author below, including all relevant financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including, but not limited to, employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speakers’ bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued. If all authors have none, check "No potential conflicts or relevant financial interests" in the box below. Please also indicate any funding received in support of this work. The information will be posted with your response.
Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.
Download citation file:
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1
Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a link to reset your password.
Enter your username and email address. We'll send instructions on how to reset your password to the email address we have on record.
Athens and Shibboleth are access management services that provide single sign-on to protected resources. They replace the multiple user names and passwords necessary to access subscription-based content with a single user name and password that can be entered once per session. It operates independently of a user's location or IP address. If your institution uses Athens or Shibboleth authentication, please contact your site administrator to receive your user name and password.