Partnership between S.D. National Guard, Suriname results in community improvements

South Dakota National Guard soldiers helped renovate schools in Suriname as part of...
South Dakota National Guard soldiers helped renovate schools in Suriname as part of international partnership.(South Dakota National Guard)
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 1:25 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Dozens of South Dakota National Guard traveled to the South American county of Suriname to provide engineering support for a school renovation and medical and dental services in several communities.

About 30 soldiers took part in the renovation project and health care mission from April 18 through May 3. Officials say the missions were part of the Suriname and South Dakota State Partnership Program to provide training for military personnel while simultaneously assisting in community needs by improving the school’s infrastructure and improving systemic and oral health for Suriname residents.

According to a press release from the National Guard, the State Partnership Program seeks to strengthen ties through engagement activities and share experiences and best practices through a variety of military training exchanges. Funding for the project was provided by the National Guard Bureau, and all materials and supplies were purchased in Suriname through U.S. Southern Command’s Humanitarian Civil Assistance program.

A dozen soldiers from the 842nd Engineer Company worked alongside about a dozen Suriname Defense Force engineers on renovations for an elementary school. Eighteen soldiers from the SDNG’s 730th Area Support Medical Company, Medical Command and 114th Medical Group worked alongside 10 Suriname Defense Force medics to provide health services to residents in several rural communities.

“We were very excited to see this project get funded and approved,” said Lt. Col. Stephen E. Sewell III, State Partnership Program coordinator and project officer. “The SDNG has proven once again that, if given resources, we will produce outstanding results.”

Officials say South Dakota and Suriname established their security cooperation relationship in 2006 under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. Since then, numerous exchanges have taken place between the SDNG and Suriname’s Defense Forces to share experiences and best practices in a variety of military training and topics.

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