CHIANTLA, Guatemala -- Men, women, young children and elderly citizens all lined up at 4 a.m. outside of the gymnasium doors. They are here for a multi-day Medical Readiness Training Exercise that offers general health evaluations, and dentistry, optometry, pharmacy and preventive medicine services as part of Beyond the Horizon 2019.

Beyond the Horizon is an annual joint training exercise in which U.S. military forces specializing in construction, engineering, and healthcare train to improve operational readiness and strengthen relationships with all forces, while also providing tangible benefits; for example, the engineers of 365th are building three schools and one medical clinic.

U.S. and Guatemalan Armed Forces, several NGOs and volunteer organizations are all working together to see about 700 patients in one day. "When patients come in they get to go through medical stations, and the doctor determines if they need an additional service" said Maj. Rachelle Collinge, a medical officer with Missouri National Guard and Jefferson City, Missouri native. "We optimize our resources, the most needy people receive assistance."

Santiago Rodrigues, a carpenter from Chiantla, and his wife brought four kids with them to the event. Their kids' ages range from a 1.5 year-old baby to 8. When asked about their experience, they simply say "Good. Excellent." Rodriguez adds "It's really good to have for my family. We had to get up at 4 a.m. and waited for hours just to be here."

"It helps us because it puts my kids on track," adds Rosa Rodrigues, a mom of four.

Over the course of four days, the joint team of medical professionals saw nearly 4,000 patients. The teams worked tirelessly to offer almost 15,000 services to all the patients. Longs hours and hard work paid off, when about 1,100 people finally saw the dentist, some for the first time in their life.

"It's two fold -- this is a training mission for our Soldiers to see what it would be like in the field taking care of our United States Army Soldiers," explains Collinge. "But also it helps us provide a positive relationship between the country of Guatemala and ourselves and alleviate some healthcare burdens on the local population."

After four days of services, people will be able to walk out of the gymnasium better than when they walked in.

"You can see people smiling as they leave there," adds Collinge. "If you can touch one life, you have made a difference."

A mom and daughter are patiently waiting for an optometry station. When asked what she thought of the event, Sofia Gevonima responds "Good, a lot of work to get here." She moved to Chiantla with a promise of a better salary, but life didn't turn out as planned.

"We paid 300 quetzals for our health services, but that doesn't afford us anything. So being able to have this is great to keep my daughter healthy," said Gevonima. With her hand over her heart, she simply adds "Muy bien."

Gunnery Sgt. Ronamo Alberto Vargas with 4th Civil Affairs Group from Pembroke Pines Florida described the event as providing general medical services to the population with support from the Ministry of Health of Guatemala. "It's an annual exercise for U.S. Army Soldiers and Marines. Some of that will have secondary effects providing assistance to the population," explains Vargas. "It's training for me as an NGO partner coordinator. I work with partners and help them work alongside of U.S. military."

From day one on April 27 all the entities participating in the event began their planning. Vargas explains that a lot of effort went into it. "I'm really happy that I get to see 5th Brigade from Guatemala, NGOs, and Missouri National Guard put this event together and work together," added Vargas with a wide smile.