General visits servicemembers, sites of New Horizons Guyana 2009
By by Senior Airman Kirsten Wicker, Joint Task Force Guyana Public Affairs
/ Published July 30, 2009
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- The men and women currently deployed here in support of New Horizons Guyana 2009 were visited today by Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Gar Graham, Air Force Assistant Surgeon General for Dental Services, Office of the Surgeon General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., and the commander of the 79th Medical Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
During the General's visit, he toured and visited the servicemembers constructing and renovating two schools and a medical clinic in the local area, as well as personnel operating medical and dental clinics that offer free services to thousands of Guyanese people.
"When the dentists and technicians come on these [dental ready training exercises] they go home pumped," said General Graham. "They really enjoy the opportunity to serve and learn how to operate in a different environment, so I wanted to see what they're doing."
General Graham started his day with a visit to the school construction site at Belair, and he met with the Air Force reservists working there. After that, he went to La Pentinence, where Army National Guard members are hard at work building a new medical clinic.
From there, he made his way to the dental clinic in Diamond to see the operation, chat with the Guyanese Ministry of Health and visit with Air Force dentists and technicians.
We are seeing partnerships being built with the local doctors to provide care for the Guyanese that live here, and we are engaging with them on a regular basis, said General Graham.
The general is confident New Horizons will leave a lasting impression on the people of Guyana.
"We are investing about $9 million here and that's a major boost on the economy and the locals," General Graham said. "It gives us an opportunity to leave an impact that will reside well past the ending of this mission."
During his tour, the general remarked that the partnerships being formed between the United States military and the Guyanese here are just what's needed to provide the highest level of quality and care.
"The most interesting thing down here so far is how we've partnered so well we're very active with the local community," said General Graham.
While friendships are being formed through cooperation and team building, the dental ready servicemembers here have increased the size and length of dental services and are able to provide more care for Guyanese.
"This is the second dental readiness training we've done," said Tech. Sgt. Nader Chebaro, the New Horizons dental liaison responsible for organizing logistics and personnel movements. "Last year we had one team for two weeks in El Salvador, so this year is much better because we have three teams over the course of six weeks in Guyana."
Next year, the teams will form in Paraguay, he added.
For General Graham, the condition of the operation and the quality of its people was encouraging and he was pleased with the outcomes so far.
"I'm really impressed with what I've seen," said General Graham. "The morale is high; the treatment is very sophisticated and very well organized. People are travelling a long distance to get seen and they are getting quality treatment."
Along with visiting American servicemembers, he also spent some time with Guyanese counterparts assisting in New Horizons.
"I just want to say thank you to the men and women of Guyana who have allowed us to come here and be their partners and have this friendship," General Graham said. "And also to the men and women who have come down here and are working so hard to represent America in such a positive light."
New Horizons Guyana is a long-running, long-term Southern Command-sponsored program that annually provides humanitarian assistance to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The New Horizons projects create a unique opportunity for the U.S. and partnering nations to work side-by-side to refine skills of their military's engineers, medical personnel and support staff through quality-of-life activities.