Operation Provide Hope reaches out to Ukraine

by Tech. Sgt. Michael Voss
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

More than 18 years ago, former Secretary of State James A. Baker announced a massive humanitarian mission sending medical equipment and supplies to the former Soviet Union. The operation’s name was Provide Hope.

The Humanitarian Assistance Program Division of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center Europe, located in Pirmasens, Germany, is the Department of Defense executive agent for planning, coordinating and executing such missions.
Each year since, military members, DOD contractors and the U.S. State Department work to provide supplies and training to increase the capabilities of a different European country.

This year’s operation, supported by 14th U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen, wrapped up after several months of planning and execution as well as pulled resources to support Crimea, Ukraine.

“We shipped approximately 90 13-meter trucks of medical equipment, furniture and supplies to eight major medical facilities in Simferopol,” said Luis De Andrade, Humanitarian Assistance Program chief.

“In addition, personnel from USAMMCE, 3rd Air Force and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center will deploy to deliver the material, install the equipment and train local medical personnel on the use of the equipment.”

The standard of health care in the Ukraine suffers from a severe lack of medical facilities and medicines. Although health care is free and available to all citizens, some medical staff have only completed half of the training required.

In total, more than 3,000 individual pieces of equipment like medical tweezers and electro surgical units were set aside in a warehouse at Husterhöh Kaserne, Germany, for transfer to eight different medical facilities throughout the Ukraine.
To accomplish this feat, four Airmen traveled on temporary duty status for 120 days working to inspect, maintain and prepare each piece of donated equipment for shipment.

“We all knew it would be a lot of work, but we volunteered eagerly,” said Staff Sgt. Micah Larsh, biomedical equipment team leader.

In addition, personnel traveled to the Ukraine to receive the incoming supplies, which started moving July 27, as well provide training to the Ukrainian medical technicians.

“This is a rather major accomplishment for the U.S. government foreign policy as it is the first major U.S. engagement in the Crimea. We have done other missions in other parts of the Ukraine but not the Crimea,” Mr. De Andrade said.