The hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) anchors off the coast of Peru on an 11-week medical support mission to Central and South America as part of U.S. Southern Command's Enduring Promise initiative. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Scott Bigley)

The Defense Department planned Friday to send a Navy hospital ship to help alleviate a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela as senior national security officials convened at the Pentagon to discuss military options for pressuring the country's president to step down.

Officials said the Comfort, a 1,000-bed vessel, probably would be sent off the coast of northern Colombia, near enough to treat refugees who have fled Venezuela.

An announcement is expected next week.

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U.S. Army/Spc. Andrew Claire Baker

Maytham Alshadood came to the U.S. and Colorado in 2008 after years of serving as a combat interpreter for American troops in Iraq, but he quickly discovered a major hurdle to settling into his new home.

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Christopher Jones

Rahmatullah says he was a farmer who fled his hometown of Sangin, in Afghanistan’s restive Helmand Province, after U.S. Marines began combat operations there in 2010. “For seven days we were stuck in our home, with the Taliban on one side and the Americans on the other,” he told me, wiping tears from his eyes. “Then a bomb landed on our house, killing my mother and son.”

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Associated Press photo by Uwe Lein

Gear accountability: There’s a reason it’s pounded into a service member’s head from day one at boot camp. You're being handed a perfect killing tool, its destructive power utterly dependent on whoever squeezes the trigger. And that’s the thing about your weapon: when someone jacks it from, let’s say an armored vehicle at a German Army base, it stops being yours.

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