From the moment he left his encampment each morning on the outskirts of Gonaives, Haiti, to the moment he returned each evening, National Guard Chaplain Lt. Col. Gil Arthur, pastor of East Leesville Baptist Church, was hard at work serving his fellow Task Force Kout Men (Creole for "helping hands") troops.


 From the moment he left his encampment each morning on the outskirts of Gonaives, Haiti, to the moment he returned each evening, National Guard Chaplain Lt. Col. Gil Arthur, pastor of East Leesville Baptist Church, was hard at work serving his fellow Task Force Kout Men (Creole for "helping hands") troops.
For the past two weeks, Arthur served as chaplain for the 500-plus personnel assigned to the task force’s New Horizon’s Haiti 2010 humanitarian mission. He regularly visited troops at several different engineering and medical sites where American service-members continue to help the people of Haiti in their time of recovery. Arthur, a 30-year veteran of the National Guard, said the Haiti mission was a very gratifying one.
“Spending time in Haiti with our New Horizons troops has been an incredible opportunity, not only to serve them but to get to know many citizens of this poor but beautiful country,” said Arthur.
Arthur and his fellow Task Force Kout Men troops are part of an international effort known as New Horizons, a U.S. Southern Command sponsored; U.S. Army South conducted joint foreign military interaction/humanitarian exercise. On almost a day-to-day basis, Arthur had the opportunity to interact with foreign troops, the local Haitian population and non-governmental organizations.
Arthur said all of the encouragement he received from his congregation at East Leesville made him feel they were there serving with him. “The humanitarian nature of this New Horizons mission is something we love to do and something I can’t thank my church family enough for supporting,” said Arthur.
The goal of the New Horizons mission is to provide tangible humanitarian engineer and medical assistance to the people of Haiti and support long-term U.S. recovery operations in Haiti while supporting the readiness of U.S. forces.
Since the Jan. 12, earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. has contributed nearly $1.1 billion towards relief and recovery efforts. Another $1.15 billion has been pledged over the coming year which represents roughly 22 percent of the total pledged by nearly 40 other countries.