HUEHUETENANGO, Guatemala – In the lush hillside of Guatemala sits Puesto Salud Tojocaz, a community here, where members of 358th Engineer Company based out of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, work to build a medical clinic, May 10, 2019, which will serve the residents long after exercise Beyond the Horizon 2019.
“We’re starting this project from the ground up and it’s really a great opportunity for our Soldiers to gain more experience”, said 1st Lt. Aurora Palumbo, an engineer with 358th Eng. Co. and the Tojocaz medical clinic officer in charge. “A lot of projects we do at home, they don’t actually start from the ground up.”
“I’m hoping to get a lot more training for our Soldiers,” Palumbo said. My group is the first of four three-week rotations of Soldiers who will be participating in BTH 19,” she said. The facility should be ready for occupancy by Mid-July.
While some Soldiers are staying for the entire three-month exercise, many are doing two- and three-week rotations. 358th Eng. Co. Soldiers will start the project, engineers arriving for future rotations will complete it.
The new facility will total nearly 1,800 square feet in size and contain everything local medical personnel will need to run a clinic.
“The clinic will include a waiting room, restroom and exam rooms where the medical personnel will see the patients”, said Palumbo.
Building the clinic is important to training and readiness, but Palumbo said she also loves the relationships aspect of the exercise as well.
“I love this exercise a lot more than annual training back at our home station,” she said. “This is great because you are also interacting with the local community, you’re getting to experience a completely different culture and help them out as well.”
“What we’ve gathered from the local civilians here is they don’t have easy access, or they are super far away from medical clinics,” she said. “We have residents here that live on the perimeter of our site and seem to be pretty excited about what we are doing here.”
“It’s a super great mission,” said Palumbo. “It’s not only good training for our Soldiers, but it actually helps the civilians here as well.”