MANDRIN, Haiti (Army News Service, June 16, 2010) -- The Louisiana National Guard's Task Force Kout Men held an official commencement ceremony for New Horizons Haiti 2010 here, June 15.

Kout Men means "Helping Hand" and denotes the spirit and hope that the mission brings to the people of Haiti.

The New Horizons exercise will "construct and repair classrooms, build latrines and make improvements to water wells in Lycee Louis Diaquoi, Ecole Nationale de Desronville, Ecole Nationale de Mandrin, and Ecole Nationale K. Georges," said Col. Michael Borrel, the task force commander.

"Medical readiness training in Nan Poteau, Ennery, Pont de l'Estere, Saint-Marc and Gonaives will be conducted in partnership with Haitian doctors," said Borrel.

Haiti was devastated by an earthquake in January and continues to rebuild some of its critical infrastructure.

In the upcoming months, military units and personnel from National Guard units including Louisiana, Arkansas, Oregon, Virgin Islands, Montana, Missouri, Texas, South Dakota and Indiana will participate in the exercise.

Additionally, servicemembers from the Army Reserve, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and the Belize Defence Force will also support the exercise.

"Louisiana and Haiti have long been associated with each other through their history and culture," said Borrel. "We hope that this exercise will strengthen those ties."

(Col. Michael Deville is a Louisiana National Guard public affairs officer.)