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Face of Defense: From Infantry to Optometry, Soldier Helps Thousands

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kamaile Casillas Pacific Air Forces

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TAM KY, Vietnam, Oct. 3, 2017 — After spending three years in a combat role as an infantryman stationed with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Polk, Louisiana, Army Sgt. Joshua Moffett decided to turn in his rifle to care for patients with eye problems, leading him here to Pacific Angel exercise 17-2.

Pacific Angel: U.S., Vietnam continue to build partnership
Army Sgt. Joshua Moffett, an optometry technician assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, works with patients at a health services outreach site during Pacific Angel exercise 17-2 in Tam Ky, Vietnam, Sept. 13, 2017. Since 2007, Pacific Angel engagements have affected the lives of tens of thousands of people by providing civil engineering programs, humanitarian aid and disaster relief and opportunities for subject-matter exchanges. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kamaile Casillas
Pacific Angel: U.S., Vietnam continue to build partnership Pacific Angel: U.S., Vietnam continue to build partnership
Army Sgt. Joshua Moffett, an optometry technician assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, works with patients at a health services outreach site during Pacific Angel exercise 17-2 in Tam Ky, Vietnam, Sept. 13, 2017. Since 2007, Pacific Angel engagements have affected the lives of tens of thousands of people by providing civil engineering programs, humanitarian aid and disaster relief and opportunities for subject-matter exchanges. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kamaile Casillas

Moffett, 24, hails from Deptford, New Jersey, and he served as an infantryman from 2012 to 2015.

"My brother, who was also an infantryman, had a lot of influence on my choice to join the Army," he said.

But when his re-enlistment popped up two years ago, Moffett chose to step outside of his previous combat role and follow another career path. "I wanted to try something different, and the medical field is very different from what I was used to as an infantryman," he explained. "It's a different world in the medical field. What I do now is treat patients with any type of eye disease, and help them to be able to see better."

As part of a five-member optometry team during Pacific Angel 17-2, a joint and combined humanitarian assistance engagement, Moffett assisted in screening patients and providing them with glasses to help them in their day-to-day lives. "It was a really satisfying experience being able to see the difference we made from before they got here to after they left," Moffett said. "And it's nice to know that we were able to help as many people as we did."

Working With Other Services

Moffett also mentioned that it was nice to work with the sister services. "It's just good to see how they operate, see if they do anything different," he said. "Collaboration is better, because working together we're able to see what methods work best and provide the best quality of care that we can."

Although he is still contemplating whether or not to make the Army a career, Moffett said, he continues to make the best of the opportunities presented to him as a soldier. "I wanted to explore the world when I came into the service," he added. "I'm stationed in Hawaii, and the Army brought me to Vietnam, where I was able to help thousands of people. Needless to say, the Army has been good to me."

Pacific Angel exercises have built positive relations through interactions such as these for the last decade in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mongolia, Laos, Tonga, Nepal and Papua New Guinea.
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