Haiti native heads home to help
January 19, 2010
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Sgt. Maj. Jean Chouloute was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and lived in Saint-Marc until he was about 11. Although he moved away, he still has family living in Port-au-Prince, and like the rest of the world, the events that have unfolded in Haiti have held his rapt attention.
For the last five months, Chouloute has served here as the command sergeant major for the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Joint Operations Center, responsible for the health and welfare of everyone who works there.
Now, he is embarking on a completely different mission. He is heading to the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bragg, N.C., and then on to Haiti, where he will be among those helping the victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Although his family in Haiti had damage to their house and are now living in a local church, they made it through OK, Chouloute said. Many had it a lot worse, he noted -- all 10 members of the family next door were killed.
But it's not concern for his family that's pulling him out of Afghanistan. When he gets there, he said, he will use his language skills while patrolling, delivering food and working with other troops to provide hope to the Haitian people.
"We will show the people of Haiti what the U.S. military and the U.S. people are all about," he said. "It's important for me to do this on a couple different fronts. I am helping to show the diversity of the Army, and I will be able to help serve as a bridge between the folks who need help and those who are going there to help. I know the culture, language, area, and people."
Chouloute said it's imperative that the United States shows Haiti how much it cares about what's happened over there.
"It makes me sad to see the level of devastation that has hit Haiti," he said. "They went for almost 50 years without making any real advances, and in the last year they started to get hope, electricity and hotels." He added that the people of Haiti have a lot of faith in the U.S. government, and are counting on its support and assistance.
"That's why it is so important for the U.S. to go there," he added. "The relationship of the Haitian people with the U.S. is important. If we weren't there, there would be more hunger, and more looting. It would be a lot worse than it is right now."
This will be Chouloute's third time going to help in Haiti since he's been in the Army, Chouloute said, adding that he is glad he has the abilities needed to be of help.
"I can't think of a better way to close out my Army career than helping out the country where I was born while representing the country I love," he said.