Pacific Angel: From infantry to optometry, U.S. Soldier helps thousands

Pacific Angel: U.S., Vietnam continue to build partnership

U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Moffett, an optometry technician, assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, intakes patients at a health services outreach site during Pacific Angel (PACANGEL) 17-2 in Tam Ky, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, Sept. 13, 2017. Since 2007, PACANGEL engagements have impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people by providing civil engineering programs, humanitarian aid and disaster relief and subject matter exchanges. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Kamaile Casillas)

Pacific Angel: U.S., Vietnam continue to build partnership

U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Moffett, an optometry technician, assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, poses for a photo in a make-shift optometry clinic at a health services outreach site during Pacific Angel (PACANGEL) 17-2 in Tam Ky, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, Sept. 15, 2017. Since 2007, PACANGEL engagements have impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people by providing civil engineering programs, humanitarian aid and disaster relief and subject matter exchanges. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Kamaile Casillas)

Pacific Angel: U.S., Vietnam continue to build partnership

U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Moffett, an optometry technician assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, works with an interpreter to hand out prescription glasses at a health outreach services site during Pacific Angel (PACANGEL) 17-2 in Tam Ky, Vietnam, Sept. 11, 2017. Now entering its tenth year, PACANGEL ensures that the region’s militaries are prepared to work together to address humanitarian crises. Since 2007, PACANGEL engagements have impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people by providing health services ranging from dentistry, optometry, pediatrics and physical therapy to civil engineering programs, humanitarian aid and disaster relief and subject matter exchanges. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Kamaile Casillas)

TAM KY, QUANG NAM PROVINCE, Vietnam -- After spending three years in a combat role as an infantryman stationed with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Polk, Louisiana, U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Moffett made a decision to turn in his rifle to care for patients with eye problems, leading him here to Pacific Angel (PACANGEL) 17-2.

Moffett, 24, hails from Deptford, New Jersey. He served as an infantryman from 2012-15.

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

But when his reenlistment popped up 2 years ago, Moffett chose to step outside of his previous combat role and chose 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 said. “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.”

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 on whether or not to make the Army a career, 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,” adds Moffett. “I'm stationed in Hawaii and the Army brought me [here] to Vietnam, where I was able to help thousands of people. Needless to say, the Army has been good to me.”

PACANGELs 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.