TAVANTOLGOI, Mongolia — A line of Mongolian citizens, some of whom traveled great distances, wait outside the gates of the 79th High School in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, for a chance to be seen by multinational military medical personnel during Exercise Khaan Quest’s healthcare service support engagement, which is open to the public for two weeks, through June 27.
The exercise, in its 13th iteration, is co-sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and hosted annually by the Mongolian Armed Forces. Khaan Quest is designed to strengthen the capabilities of U.S., Mongolia and other partner nations in international peace support operations.
For Col. Rebecca Young, an obstetrician nurse practitioner and medical detachment commander with the Alaska Army National Guard, this year marks her 9th visit to the country in support of the medical outreach mission.
“This exercise and partnership with Mongolia have given the Alaska National Guard an avenue to pursue great training while giving back to the community,” explained Young. “It helps us train in austere environments while working with other forces and other nationalities — it makes for a wonderful opportunity to train, provide healthcare, and learn from one another on how to deliver health care.”
The HSSE was established to provide preventative medical, dental and veterinary care to the local community in the exercise areas. This year, approximately 50 multinational service members were able to treat more than 4,300 Mongolian citizens.
“Our mission at the HSSE is to provide health care to Mongolians,” Young said. “We will screen for wellness, screen for minor surgeries that we can perform care for here, and coordinate with the Mongolians and their health care systems for situations that are too big for our facility.”
A portion of HSSE includes traveling into local neighborhoods for home healthcare visits, provided by the professional medical teams in support of the exercise.
“One day, we paid a home visit to a 97-year-old retired Mongolian Soldier,” Young said. “His big complaint during our visit was his back — he could barely stand due to severe back pain. However, he was so proud that we were coming to see him that he stood on his porch for hours waiting to greet us. It was a very humbling experience.”
The nations supporting HSSE include the Canadians, Indians, Koreans, Mongolians, as well as U.S. forces — nine of whom are members of the Alaska National Guard alongside Young.
“It’s the people that keep me coming back, year after year,” Young said. “The Mongolians, the troops — I’m just so glad that everyone is here and am so proud of what we’re able to do.”