Community outreach and education in Kosovo

Photo By Maj. Demietrice Pittman | U.S. Army physical therapist, Maj Nathan Parsons discuss exercise plans and stretches. Many of the attendees mention neck and back pain at the education forum held on 29 January 2020.
February 02, 2020

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – On 29 January 2020, Soldiers Task Force Medical (TFMED) assigned to the Regional Command East (RC-E) deployed to Kosovo hosted an education forum at the WomenforWomen organization in Prishtina.

What is Women for Women?

Women for Women International ( a global non-profit organization. They work with women who live in the hardest places in the world and help teach them skills. The organization develops programs to teach the women different skills such as making honey, textiles and food wares. The goal is to help them be able to sustain themselves and their families. The organization has been in Kosovo since the war in 1999. To date they have served more than 33,000 women.

“We have teamed up with US Medical Soldiers from Camp Bondsteel for years,” stated Edita Veseli, head of the Social Empowerment Office. “We truly appreciate when they come out and put on education forums.”

The organizers developed several different presentations for the current education forum. Capt. Shawn Thomas, veterinarian, discussed toxoplasmosis and food safety. He received several questions related to washing hands and plants taken from the garden. In addition, he discussed vaccinations and care of pets.

“I wasn’t prepared for the amount of questions, stated Thomas, “but happy to pass on the knowledge.”

Maj Nathan Parsons, physical therapist assigned to TFMED, discussed exercise and pain management. He received numerous questions about back and neck pain. He and his physical therapy technician, Sgt. Sara Moon demonstrated some simple stretches.

Sgt Mary Wood, behavioral health technician, discussed decreasing use of tobacco. Ironically right before her talk, many of the women asked if they could take a smoke break. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Kosovo is one of the few countries that has not decreased their tobacco use. Smoking is banned indoors but still occurs in coffee shops and restaurants throughout the country. Many women who did not smoke had family members who smoked and were encouraged by the presentation.

“They were really interested in learning about secondhand smoke and especially how it effects children,” stated Sgt Wood.

The event closed with networking time and food. Invitations were extended to attend host more events in the future. Participants wanted to learn about stress management and other topics.

“We hope to find someone who will take over as out time in country is coming to a close, ” stated Maj Parsons.. “I feel that this is continuing the good relationship between Camp Bondsteel and the future iterations of the KFOR mission.”