West Virginians play major role in Afghan evacuation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Robert Snuffer is a staff physician at Mon Health’s Stone as a civilian. In the United State Army Reserve it’s lieutenant colonel Robert Snuffer, member of the 811th Hospital Brigade.

On WAJR’s Talk of the Town, Snuffer said he has been stationed at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The camp was established in 2002 and has been a staging area for military operations throughout the Middle East. Prior to the Afghanistan evacuation he was providing medical care at Camp Buehring for coalition soldiers.

Once holding centers in Qatar and Iraq became full Camp Buehring became the destination for Afghan refugees and their families.

“They sent a bunch here, between 5,000 and 6,000 within three or four days” LTC Snuffer said,” So, interestingly enough there’s a group here- the 111th Engineer Brigade from West Virginia.”

According to Snuffer, members of the 11th Engineer Brigade worked 24-hours-a-day for about two weeks to build housing for up to 7,000 refugees. The units were canvas supported by steel I-beams on concrete pads.

“When the mission changed over with the Afghans we switched gears,” Snuffer said,” The problem I think was, is the Army is equipped to take care of soldiers and wounded soldiers. We’re not equipped to take care of kids and we’re not equipped to take care of babies.”

The challenge to the 811th Hospital Brigade got tougher when a significant portion of the care team at Camp Buehring was sent to Qatar to help provide medical care in crowded facilities there.

Dr. Snuffer, a physicians assistant and nurse practitioner work 24-hours on and 24-hours off for a about three week period. Snuffer said as they worked the refugees continued to flow to Camp Buehring.

“They would fly them to a different airbase and bus them here,” Snuffer said,” We would receive 700 or 800 up to 1,200 to 1,400 refugees at a time every two to three hours and that operation went on for several days.”

Snuffer delivered a healthy baby boy during the mission.

Snuffer expects to end this deployment in October and continue his work with Mon Health Systems.