Good Neighbor Program doing great stuff in Korea

by 1st Lt. Edward S. Shim, Theater Air Naval Ground Operations (TANGO) Security Force
Stripes Korea

YONGSAN GARRISON - Values such as selfless service and professionalism are principles by which all service members strive to live each day.  Soldiers of United States Forces Korea (USFK) are called not just to be Army professionals; they are also called to be ambassadors of the United States of America.  It is for this reason that units across the Korean peninsula have answered the call to serve through volunteer service.  Since 2002, the Good Neighbor Program has aimed to promote friendship, trust, and mutual understanding between USFK and the Republic of Korea through volunteer service and activities.  Of the numerous units who have devoted their time and energy volunteering with our host nation counterparts, the Special Troops Battalion, United States Forces Korea has been dedicated to the cause.

Commanded by LTC Glenda A. Gill, the Special Troops Battalion has dedicated hundreds of combined volunteer hours each month through the GNP.  Since the activation of the battalion, the battalion has sought to promote friendship with the Republic of Korea through volunteering and selfless service.  LTC Gill said, “Serving our country and giving back to the community are extremely important aspects of being stationed here in the Republic of Korea.   Our goal is to continue strengthening the ROK/US Alliance by promoting friendship and building trust at work and in the community.”  In regards to volunteerism, one company within Special Troops Battalion has lived up to its motto of “Better Than The Best” - the United Nations Command (UNC) Honor Guard Company. 

Every month the UNC Honor Guard Company organizes multiple volunteer events for Soldiers through the use of its own resources.  These events include visits to orphanages such as Namsan-won where Honor Guard Soldiers have become familiar faces, assisting the disabled and elderly at the Dongchun Social Welfare Center, or organizing and sponsoring field trips to the Seoul Animation Museum for underprivileged Korean youth.  The relationships and partnerships built represent years of cooperation and mutual trust.   Moreover, the Good Neighbor Program has provided Soldiers an invaluable opportunity to learn about their Korean hosts, culture, and society on a more meaningful level. 

The success of the Good Neighbor Program within the Special Troops Battalion has built continuity within the UNC Honor Guard Company.  Outgoing Soldiers recall their volunteer service as some of their most rewarding experiences, encouraging incoming Soldiers to give back as well.  Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (MOVSM) Recipient and Volunteer of the Quarter Awardee, UNC Honor Guard PFC Desmond Lawrey said, “I love working with the Korean people.  Volunteering with the Good Neighbor Program is one of the best decisions I’ve made during my time in Korea.”  UNC Honor Guard Company Commander, CPT Kyle Burkholder said, “The UNC Honor Guard Company is thankful for having Soldiers and family members who contribute their personal time to support the Good Neighbor Program which promotes stability and prosperity to strengthening the ROK and US Alliance.”

Without question, the call to serve the Republic of Korea through the Good Neighbor Program remains just as important for all USFK Soldiers.  From each act of kindness to every warm sentiment shared, USFK service members have strengthened the Alliance and have made a real difference in the lives of our host nation counterparts.  It is with this belief that all service members of United States Forces Korea will continue to build trust and mutual understanding through the Good Neighbor Program.  “Katchi Kapshida – Forward Together!”

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