By MC2 Shamira Purifoy
Continuing Promise 2017 Public Affairs
An opening ceremony was held to celebrate the arrival of the humanitarian mission Continuing Promise 2017 (CP-17), Feb. 2, at its main medical site in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.
Capt. Errin Armstrong, mission commander for CP-17 and Commodore of NS Mayport-based DESRON 40, spoke at the event with the assistance of a translator.
During his speech, Armstrong expressed the significance of the Continuing Promise mission and the partnerships established in the Central and South American region, including Guatemala.
"This year's Continuing Promise mission is it's seventh iteration in a span of 10 years, and our visit to Guatemala will be the sixth during the same period of cooperation," said Armstrong. "Through Continuing Promise's spirit of teamwork, all of us have the unique opportunity to enhance our medical, dental, and veterinary capabilities on a local and global scale."
Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command mission introduced in 2007. It provides medical, engineering, veterinary, and humanitarian assistance activities in select countries to strengthen partnerships and improve cooperation on many levels with partner nations, interagency organizations, and nongovernmental organizations.
Guatemala is CP-17's first stop on its three-month humanitarian and civic assistance mission. Armstrong said the work done over the 12-day visit will build on relationships developed in previous years and increase the capacities of countries and communities to provide for themselves, making the visit to Puerto Barrios and possible future visits an exchange of information and chance to strengthen partnerships.
"During Continuing Promise 2017 we will continue to work and train side-by-side with doctors and nurses; government agencies, including the ministry of health; Guatemalan military forces; and countless volunteers from the community and international aide organizations," said Armstrong. "Together through these partnerships, we will help communities develop the ability to meet their own needs on a daily basis while leaving a tangible positive impact on the people we help."
Prominent Puerto Barrios government officials and community members also addressed the audience of host nation volunteers and U.S. and Guatemalan military members at the engagement.
During the event, Geraldina Motta, director of Operation Blessing International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization, gave special praise to CP-17 participants for their commitment to service.
"I want to thank the U.S. military for what you are doing," said Motta. "You are doing God's work."
The event took place at a local athletic complex, turned into the main medical site where service members began proving various medical screenings and treatments for host nation patients after the ceremony ended.
After Guatemala, CP-17 will make two additional scheduled mission stops in Honduras and Columbia.
This is the seventh CP mission conducted under the guidance of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet (USNAVSO/C4F).