News: Framework for making memories; Service members spend time with Thai patients
Story by Lance Cpl. Courtney White
RAYONG, Thailand - Marines and sailors participating in Exercise Cobra Gold 2012 visited the Camillian Social Center in Rayong, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 11, as part of a community relations project.
The purpose of the center is to provide health care for adults and children suffering from HIV and AIDS. The center operates with the mindset of ‘caring for the sick as a mother cares for her sick child.’
The 24 service members spent the afternoon visiting, playing games and interacting with the adults and children who live at the center.
“(We) were able to interact with the residents of the center and show our support from the United States military for the Kingdom of Thailand,” said Navy Lt. Gary W. Foshee, command chaplain for Combat Logistics Battalion 3, Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It is definitely a way for us to show our appreciation for Thailand hosting us in not only their military operations but also in their communities.”
It is a great thing when the children get to interact with new people, said D. Paul Baird, a volunteer at the center.
“It’s wonderful when the younger generation like the Marines and sailors come to visit because they have more energy to keep up with the children and the children love to have them,” said Baird.
At the conclusion of the visit, the center provided paper hearts and markers for residents and visitors to create Valentine’s Day cards to display at the center.
“The best part of the event was being able to see the residents, despite their unfortunate circumstances, in such a good mood,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kerlon Williams, a preventive medicine technician with 3rd Medical Battalion, III MEF Headquarters Group, III MEF. “It was a great feeling to know we were able to bring a little more happiness into their lives.”
Being able to spend time with the residents of the center is not an opportunity many people get to experience, said Foshee.
“Our lives have definitely been strengthened by the courage these people have allowed us to witness.”
The goal for the center is to be able to provide the framework for the everyday lives of the residents, said Baird.
“The center is able to provide education, assistance and most importantly a greater chance at life,” said Baird. “It just takes working at it, and we are here to help as much as we can.”
U.S. service members are in the Kingdom of Thailand in support of Exercise Cobra Gold 2012, a recurring multinational and multi-service exercise co-hosted annually by the Kingdom of Thailand and the U.S.