Army Education News

Changing Lives at Home and Abroad

Sep 9, 2016

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers Put their Skills to Work for Underserved Communities 

U.S. Army Reserve Maj. John Endow didn’t know what to expect when he stepped inside a Guatemalan field tent during his first service trip abroad. All he knew is that he would put his dental skills to work for over 1,000 local residents over a two-week period as part of a humanitarian mission with the U.S. Army Reserve 185th Dental Company.

With more than 23 years of experience in dentistry, Endow joined the Army Reserve to fulfill his desire to do humanitarian work while supporting his family as his children neared college age and pursuing his dream of his own private dental practice.

“Resiliency and adaptability are key in life,” Endow said. “I knew it was the right time to give back and set the right example for my daughters through continued learning and community service.”

Maj. Endow is not alone. The number of workers who look to serve a higher purpose through their careers is higher than ever. In fact, it was ranked third amongst the list of considerations that potential employees seek in new employers.

U.S Army dental hygentist Sgt. Caroline Fuel performs dental care on a patient during a recent service mission with the 185th Dental Company.
(Photo by Capt. Edward Moon, 807th Medical Command, 185th Dental Company)

Like Endow, Sgt. Caroline Fuel has also participated in global humanitarian missions, including trips to Guatemala, Hawaii and the Dominican Republic.

“Some of our patients have never had a dental checkup,” Fuel said. “I’ve never seen people so happy to see a dentist.

“The amount of gratitude and fulfillment you receive is overwhelming. They’re even grateful to receive a toothbrush. It’s that type of feedback that keeps you going, that lets you know you’re doing something right,” Fuel said.

When she is not serving, Sgt. Fuel is working to become a physical therapist by studying full-time at California State University of Fullerton.

Also from the U.S. Army Reserve 185th Dental Company, Sgt. Janet Lay takes community service personally.

“The nature of the Reserve lets me care for my aging parents during the day and go to school nights and weekends,” Lay said. “When my dad had his second stroke, I knew it was my turn to care for him just like he’s cared for me.”

Sgt. Lay, an in-home care support services professional in her civilian career, also takes advantage of Army educational benefits to continue her education.

“The Reserve helps me get the training I need to become a dental hygienist while helping my family and others through our mission trips.”

“While rewarding, these mission trips are also challenging,” said Maj. Endow. “We have to be ready to help others without the infrastructure we have here at home – we have to be quick on our feet and solve problems.”

Endow says the training he’s received in the Army Reserve has helped him be more agile when having to adapt tools for nontraditional uses and communicating between cultures.

The U.S. Army Reserve’s 185th Dental Company sets up field hospitals worldwide to provide high quality patient care to underserved communities.
(Photo by Capt. Edward Moon, 807th Medical Command, 185th Dental Company)


The 185th Dental Company is based in Garden Grove, Calif., and offers some of the 120 career specialties available through the U.S. Army Reserve. The company seeks to help communities while providing hands-on training for the service members involved.

The U.S. Army Reserve is a part-time commitment that enables Soldiers to keep their civilian career, and obtain specialized training that empowers Soldiers to evolve personally and gives the Army much-needed specialists in cutting-edge disciplines.

For more information on the lifelong benefits of the Army Reserve, visit

Related Articles

Army Education News Archive