CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- The 1st Force Service Support Group's medical logistics section here helped to put more than $800,000 worth of medical supplies into the hands of Iraqis in the Al Anbar province April 1, 2004.
The supplies include everything from multivitamins for children and arthritis and pain medication for the elderly, to anti-depressants for Iraqis suffering from mental health illnesses spawned from years of oppression.
Freedom and Peace Trust - a charitable organization working with the Marine Corps to deliver the supplies - purchased them with funds donated by U.S. corporations and collected by Direct Relief International, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., said Wasseem S. Kabbara, executive director of the charity.
"It is important to obtain this stuff as fast as possible and get it to the people where they need it," said Kabbara, who chose to start the deliveries in this province because it is "the most volatile" area of Iraq.
The 1st FSSG's medical logistics section helped coordinate the transportation of these supplies from the United States, through Kuwait, to the camp here. The supplies will soon be taken by the 1st Marine Division for distribution to the Iraqi people.
The Group's Marines and sailors are in Iraq to provide combat service support to the approximately 25,000 troops of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, deployed here to conduct security and stability operations.
The costs of transporting the shipment were funded by the Kuwaiti government, through their Humanitarian Operations Center, which is staffed by both Kuwaitis and coalition forces.
Col. Dos Hetrick, the I Marine Expeditionary Force liaison officer for the center, traveled with the shipment from Kuwait to ensure its safe arrival. The total trip took about four days, he said.
Freedom and Peace Trust has also been working with the Iraqi Ministry of Health to try and establish a mental health policy for Iraq. They have been doing mental health assessments for the last eight months, said Kabbara.
This organization previously delivered more than $12 million in aid to Iraq, though this delivery is the first in support of a new program called "Health Bridges Peace," which will focus on the mental health issues affecting the local population, Kabbara said.
Kabbara said that the program will let the Iraqi's "know that (help) is coming from the people in the United States through private donations," to try and build good will with the Iraqi population.
"They're really good people. We believe that they have been going through a lot of oppression," said Kabbara. "It's very important for people to pay attention to ... improving the Iraqi's mental well-being, to allow them to understand what our democracy and our lifestyle are about."