SAN CLEMENTE, Peru—Maj. Rene Saenz examines the teeth of a Peruvian boy while explaining his observations to the boy’s mother June 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Candace N. Park/released)
U.S., Peruvian military medics and personnel from Project Hope, a non-governmental organization, are working side-by-side to provide quality medical care in a timely manner to thousands of Peruvians during New Horizons 2012
New Horizons is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored humanitarian assistance and training exercise that takes place annually in Latin American and Caribbean countries. The exercise offers unique training opportunities for U.S. and partner nation military medics alike, while affording communities in need with medical services and critical community infrastructure.
"I believe we're making a difference by providing quality medical care to people who really need it and wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it," said Project Hope interpreter Wendy Song. "It's such an honor to be able to work with military personnel and Project Hope--we have the same goals and having a joint humanitarian effort provides synergy and a greater impact on the community."
Military medics will provide medical services in 11 locations in Peru over a six-week period. They anticipate they will attend to about 30,000 patients at the sites.
"It's very gratifying to be able to use my skill to help those in need," said Lt. Col Jay Fandel, an Air Force dentist deployed from the 42nd Medical Group, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
The sentiment was shared by another deployed Air Force medic, pediatrician Maj. Marc Boggy from the 56th Medical Operations Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
"I'm getting to see some cases I don't get to see at my home-station regular practice setting, which has great training value to me," Boggy said. "I'm learning you can do a lot of good even when you have fewer resources available--you make do with what you have and you're still able to make a big difference."
Critical infrastructure projects are also underway as part of New Horizons Peru 2012. Engineers deployed as the 820th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron are collaborating with their Peruvian military engineer counterparts to build a new town community center with a central park area, playground, library, clinic and auditorium in Tambo de Mora, a town hit by a devastating earthquake in 2007.
The town was liquefied by the resulting tsunami and thousands of people were displaced, said Jose Pepe Girao of the Chincha municipal government.
"This project is what people here have been praying for," Girao said. "It will improve the lives of many who have been suffering and it will bring them together."
The 820th ERHS and Peruvian military engineering company are also working side-by-side on the construction of an emergency room addition to the clinic in Independencia. The projects are providing them an opportunity to train and learn from one another, while delivering important infrastructure projects to the community.
New Horizons activities are scheduled to conclude at the end of August.