SONSONATE, El Salvador – More than 60 military healthcare providers from Canada, Colombia and the U.S. arrived here April 13 to begin a two-week rotation treating thousands of Salvadoran patients at two medical readiness exercise sites in support of Beyond the Horizon-El Salvador 2013.
“We’re going to work and sweat together, and we’ll accomplish the mission together,” said Lt. Col. Raymond Valas, Joint Task Force Jaguar commander, New Hampshire National Guard. “When we finish this training, you are going to leave behind a lasting benefit for the people of El Salvador.”
Service members are in El Salvador as part of BTH, a humanitarian and civic-assistance mission deploying military engineers and medical professionals here to work alongside Salvadoran and other partner nation personnel providing medical, construction and humanitarian services, while training and improving skill sets.
The purpose of BTH is to conduct civil-military operations, including humanitarian-civic assistance as well as medical, dental, engineering support by partner nations, active duty, and National Guard and Reserve service members.
A lasting benefit is something a New Hampshire guardsman on her first humanitarian mission is excited to do.
“I think it is going to be amazing,” said Sgt. Janessa Doxstader, 3643rd Brigade Support Battalion medical readiness noncommissioned officer, New Hampshire National Guard. “I can’t wait to help people, make an impact with the Salvadoran people and feel as though I did something great.”
The JTF Jaguar command sergeant major told the group three goals the commander has during BTH.
“The expectations for you while you are here is mission success,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Speltz, Joint Task Force Jaguar commander sergeant major, speaking to the group of arrivals. “We can break down that mission success further into three basic goals: build schools, treat patients, and do both of those safely.”
Valas spoke about the incredible opportunity that lay ahead for the group of new arrivals.
“You are about to start an outstanding and memorable training exercise,” Valas said.
The commander went on to say that the mission will be accomplished with partner nations’ personnel working alongside one another.
“We are going to get out to the back country of El Salvador and build schools, we’re going to run medical clinics for people and animals, and we’re going to do this with all the partner countries working together as one,” Valas said.
He went on to say that for those who have participated in the past, the experience will be lasting.
“I know some people have done this exercise before and you know…what it’s like to help other people,” said Valas. “You know that when you leave, the result of your work and training made a real tangible difference to the people in El Salvador.”