Dr. John Castillo, Executive Director, and Marvin Thurman, Program Manager, Walking Shield; are pictured with Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley and Col. Jay Scott and their representatives; to build on their partnership to improve the quality of life of American Indians in California and across the country.
Dr. John Castillo recently met with the Department of Defense and California National Guard leadership responsible for the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program to build on their mission to “produce mission-ready forces through military training opportunities that provide key services for American Indian communities”. Walking Shield has been a principal partner with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the California National Guard (CNG) to meet its mission objectives and to bring these valuable resources to benefit native communities. Walking Shield works with Joint U.S. military constructions task forces consisting of Army Combat Engineers, Navy Seabees, Air Force Civil Engineers, and National Guard Units to build, construct, and repair various infrastructures on Indian reservations. The IRT program utilizes various military branches to deliver their skills, experience and equipment to build roads, housing, water delivery systems and provide critical health programs to American Indian reservations and rancherias in California and across the country. Walking Shield plays an integral role in identifying tribal infrastructure needs, completing required applications, and coordinating logistical requirements on all approved projects. Walking Shield works with each respective Tribal government in the administration of each project to ensure quality assurance and effectiveness. At this meeting, our partnership has been improved to include an increase in the number of approved IRT projects annually, IRT projects can be multi-year requests, and a focus to improve the health status of individuals and families living on reservations through increased medical programs including doctors, health professionals, dentists, optometry, and veterinarian assistance.