News: Canadian corporal deploys to Belize for dental mission
Story by Master Sgt. Kelly Ogden
BELIZE CITY, Belize - Entering the makeshift dental clinic in Belize City, Belize, you’ll notice a swarm of U.S. Air Force dentists and dental technicians busying around the clinic at a dizzying pace.
You’d see the effortless teamwork and think that all of these professionals must’ve been training together for months to be able to keep up with the workload of seeing 700 patients in two weeks.
But, you would be wrong.
Only upon close examination would you would realize that a few of the uniforms are not like the other and that they just joined the dental team eleven short days ago.
Canadian Army Cpl. Glenn Keefe, a dental training support corporal at Canadian Forces Health Services Training Center, is in country working side-by-side with his U.S. and Belizean counterparts to provide dental care to patients in Belize in support of the U.S. Southern Command sponsored New Horizons exercise.
The training is essential and ensures partner nation forces remain prepared for real-world deployments in support of contingency, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations. This training is specifically designed to give medical experts experience in what it takes to deploy, conduct operations and redeploy.
Keefe is in country to assist New Horizons dental team members with sterilization, radiology, dental technician and radiology duties, and also acts as a dental floater.
He says that the experience of being deployed for the first time has been extremely positive, people are friendly and everyone is focused on teamwork.
“Being here in Belize has made me happier to be in the military,” Keefe said. “The Belizean people have made me feel like I was home.”
Sometimes exhausted from the long hours and the seemingly endless stream of patients, Keefe says that the hours don’t matter because the job is satisfying.
He enjoys being able to learn from both U.S. and Belizean dentists and dental technicians as well as teaching them both about Canadian dentistry.
Of the entire experience, Keefe said, “I’ve made some lifelong friendships, and I have already begun inviting people to visit me in Canada and to join me as a friend on Facebook.”
Keefe will be returning to Canada when the New Horizons exercise ends at the end of the month.
He hopes that one day he will be able to visit a few U.S. military dental clinics to see dental teams in action at home station.