I have been with Spirit of America for about a month now, and am currently in the field with Project Manager, Matt Fielkow. We have been traveling to various locations in Central and South America, identifying the local needs as well as conducting site surveys for future projects. I am so excited for the opportunity I have been given to help the US military reach their objectives in the areas they operate. One of my favorite parts of the job is engaging with the local population, as it allows the chance to gain a better understanding of the conflicts and violence from their perspective. Gangs and Transnational Criminal Organizations have such a vast influence on most of Latin America specifically in regards to youth and adolescence, and these threats have the potential to spread.
After the first month alone, I already have a lot of project concepts underway. In general, these efforts will assist the US Military through community engagement, reaching out to locals to deter the recruitment of youth to gangs and helping local populations create a better life for themselves and their families. I recently worked on a project in Honduras delivering medical equipment and supplies to local police elements, allowing them to develop stronger positive relationships with the local populace. This opportunity impacted me profoundly as it not only provided me the opportunity to work on the ground assisting locals, but it also allowed me to witness first hand the culmination of the efforts of the host nation’s security forces, the outreach of our US Military Advisors in the region, and the inter-agency coordinators involved in the project; its outcome was nothing short of beautiful.
After traveling throughout Central and South America I have often reflected on how I became so fortunate as to be in this position to help the military in this new capacity? I honestly believe that my 6 years in the Navy has shaped and prepared me to work for SoA. The majority of my time in the military was spent internationally in Southern Spain, East Africa, and most recently the Middle East. I had a hugely rewarding and unique opportunity to enable Special Forces engaging with the female population as part of the cultural outreach team. My goal is to utilize this training in the field and continue to help to improve the standard of living for the local people. As a military veteran, I want to continue to support our military and their efforts as they continue to support ours. I am very blessed by this opportunity, and I am looking forward to sharing my work with you.