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News Release


Release No: 287-95
May 24, 1995


The Department of Defense and a couple of Michigan dentists have joined forces to help the Latvian people. About four tons of warm weather clothing, eyeglasses, medical books dental x-ray machines, hospital beds and mattresses, intravenous equipment, medicines and other medical equipment are destined for a Christian medical and family clinic in Riga. The supplies will be airlifted from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mt. Clemens, Mich., later today.

The Department's Office of Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs (HRA) worked in concert with Drs. John and Lois Ohlsson of Rochester to transport the supplies to the facility, which the couple visited last year as part of a Christian mission team. Overwhelmed by the spartan facility, they vowed to return to Riga with equipment and medicine to modernize the clinic.

"This shipment is vital to the clinic," said Dr. Lois Ohlsson. "When we visited last year, the entire facility consisted on only one broken Russian dental unit. What kind of service can the clinic provide when it doesn't even have a basic item like a sink?"

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs Patricia L. Irvin said the Department, in cooperation with other government agencies and within the limits of its resources, understands and strives to fulfill its responsibility to help alleviate suffering throughout the world. She said the Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) is often the most economical means available to local charitable organizations to transport donated goods to foreign countries for humanitarian purposes.

Under the 1986 DOD Authorization Act, HRA is authorized to transport non-lethal excess property, relief supplies and privately donated cargo to meet humanitarian needs worldwide. Over the past two years, 370 transportation missions have been accomplished to more than 50 countries.

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