Dr. Earl Wellington, a retired physician from Harlingen, Texas had been interested in volunteer medical work for years. He was also familiar with Project HOPE. This year, his intersections of interests came together when he accepted a volunteer position in internal medicine aboard the USS Iwo Jima and ashore in Nicaragua and Panama.
“I am enjoying the military interaction," says Dr. Wellington. "I retired from the Veterans Administration and I was in the military myself. Relating to the younger soldiers and their work in the Persian Gulf has helped me understand their military experience and unique circumstances.”
He is also enjoying learning from the military and other NGOS participating in Continuing Promise 2010. "I was not expecting to get the education from the military and NGOs that I have received. That was a nice surprise,” Dr. Wellington says. Referring to learning about tropical medicine and field medicine," Dr. Wellington adds. "It is kind of rough medicine that is practiced in many of these situations."
Dr. Wellington is also busy giving lots of time and attention to the patients he treats. "I am surprised at the number of people who don’t have basic medical care. They have to walk long distances to receive it," he says. "I am gaining a real appreciation for what these people have to live with. The best thing I can do while here is give the people that come to me my full attention and concern."
“I would like to do something like this again, and I would recommend it," he adds. "I guess the big thing for me is the time away from the family, and I would have to balance it with that.”
Dr. Wellington says he is sure his first volunteer experience with HOPE will stay with him when he returns home. “I think I will probably be more focused on the things I think are important and not waste so much time on things I don’t care about." With a bit of a chuckle he adds, "Maybe I won’t be so lazy…now and I will get after some of those projects I need to complete when I get home.”
I hope his wife is reading this.
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