Thirty-six Arkansas National Guardsmen from the 188th Wing at Ebbing Air National Guard base in Fort Smith and the 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville departed early December for a seven-day mission providing free medical care in Guatemala City.
“We are delighted to contribute to our state partnership with Guatemala by providing essential support and free medical care alongside Guatemalan physicians to help those in need,” said Colonel Thomas DeGraff, commander of the 189th Medical Operations Squadron.
Arkansas Air National and Guatemalan Air Force members participated in the opening ceremony for the “Amistad Por Guatemala” (Friendship for Guatemala) medical readiness exercise. Immediately following the ceremony, the doors to the Guatemalan Air Force Hospital Nuestra Señora Virgen de Loreto opened.
The airmen expect to treat 200 to 500 people a day, providing dental, optometry, family medicine, and orthopedic care at the hospital in Guatemala City. Additionally, a public health officer is providing fetal health protection education.
Arkansas and Guatemala were paired in the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program in 2002. They have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship in their 20 to 30 military-to-military exchanges each year.