Paraguayan Navy Chief Petty Officer Lilian Soledad Avalos Dielma dedicated her 15 years of military service as a paramedic, combat nurse, and first aid instructor.
Chief Petty Officer Avalos is the first Paraguayan noncommissioned officer (NCO) to serve as an instructor at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) at Fort Benning, Georgia, a role she held from 2019 to 2021. WHINSEC recognized her with the best instructor of the year award in 2020. The following year, she was awarded the U.S. Meritorious Service Medal.
She spoke with Diálogo about her experience as a WHINSEC instructor and in her current role as head nurse of the Paraguayan Navy and instructor of first-aid courses.
Diálogo: Why did you choose to become a paramedic in the Paraguayan Navy?
Paraguayan Navy Chief Petty Officer Lilian Soledad Avalos Dielma: I chose to be a paramedic in the Paraguayan Navy to provide medical care to my fellow officers who might need it in the field during their service.
Diálogo: You are the first Paraguayan NCO to serve as a WHINSEC instructor, a role you held for three years and for which you received an award as best instructor of the year in 2020. What does this recognition mean?
Chief Petty Officer Avalos: This recognition that I received at WHINSEC was really big because it enhances my country’s NCOs and my military career. Being the first NCO to go to WHINSEC as an instructor was really significant because, through it, I was able to gain experience both as an instructor and as a student.
Diálogo: What is the significance of your experience at WHINSEC?
Chief Petty Officer Avalos: The significance of this experience lies in the training and being able to interact with my other peers, instructors, and students from all over the hemisphere, as they also contributed to my learning, just as I was able to share some of my experience with them.
Diálogo: What are the benefits of the interaction between WHINSEC instructors and students with their counterparts from partner nations?
Chief Petty Officer Avalos: The benefits that we have as instructors and as students at WHINSEC is the interaction between countries, the interaction between the teachings, and the different experiences that help us improve, both professionally and individually.
Diálogo: How does this WHINSEC experience help you in your current role as chief nurse of the Paraguayan Navy and instructor of first-aid courses?
Chief Petty Officer Avalos: It helps and contributes to the new role that I have in the Health Department of the Armed Forces and to the training of the other components of this department.
Diálogo: What would you like to say about the professionalization of NCOs in your country?
Chief Petty Officer Avalos: The professionalization of NCOs has taken a big step forward through the newcomers, who base themselves on training, and thanks to WHINSEC, the doors are opening for us to train personnel; we really have a staff that’s quite advanced in this area.
Diálogo: What do you consider to be your greatest challenge?
Chief Petty Officer Avalos: My biggest challenge upon returning from WHINSEC has been to implement everything I’ve learned here in Paraguay, not only at the Armed Forces’ level, but also at the national level.