6 June 2019
Private Liam Jones says he feels he has done his job when people smile after receiving dental care and treatment.
Private Jones was one of five dental assistants who were part of a 13-member New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) contingent that provided dental care in Samoa recently.
“It felt great to see patients happy and smiling again after receiving treatment,” he said
The NZDF contingent, in collaboration with Samoa’s Ministry of Health, provided a range of treatment to 420 high-needs patients during Exercise Tropic Twilight, as the dental programme was called.
“One of the reasons I became a dental assistant is to help people, so it was great to go and provide dental care to our Samoan neighbours,” Private Jones said.
“It was also my first deployment overseas, so I was quite excited to gain experience in a foreign country.”
Private Jones grew up in Lower Hutt and was a House leader at St Bernard’s College, which he graduated from in December 2016.
He enlisted in the New Zealand Army in February 2017, after being encouraged by his maternal uncle Warrant Officer Class One Leon Whitelaw, who is the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion.
“I played football and took part in triathlons in high school and by joining the Army I have been able to maintain this active lifestyle,” he said.
“I also have the opportunity to serve our country and help make a difference to people’s lives.”
The NZDF has conducted similar dental treatment programmes in Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty, Kaitaia, Vanuatu and Samoa. Private Jones took part in the programme in Hawke’s Bay last March