– President Weah
By Gloria T. Tamba, William Harmon, and Alvin Worzi
The new Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) administration has promised to restore prestige and dignity in the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) with the establishment of a specialized modern hospital solely dedicated to the welfare of officers of the country’s military.
President George Manneh Weah said his administration will raise the necessary funds to ensure that this modern health facility is built to carter to the healthcare of the gallant men and women of the (AFL) and their families, although he did not say how he intends to raise the required funds.
He also promised to improve housing and education, and to revamp the aviation sector in the army, among others, to enable them do their work.
Speaking at the 61st Armed Forces Day celebrations in Monrovia on Monday, the President noted that the welfare of the military remains one of his administration’s major priorities.
He said it is sad that there is no specialized healthcare facility for the AFL in the country. “It is well-known that there are no specialized medical facilities for the AFL. Our heroes, returning wounded to Liberia from peace missions abroad, have to be evacuated to other countries for the specialized medical treatment that they required,” he said, adding that at times, they are abandoned in barracks or are left to languish in private wards with no attention.
“I want to inform you that I shall seek funds to build a hospital exclusively for the use of the army and other security forces. This will be the first ever military hospital built in Liberia,” President Weah said to rounds of applause.
He said the hospital will be equipped with the most modern facilities, and will be staffed by highly trained medical personnel. “It will also be a teaching hospital to train our men and women in arms in all medical disciplines,” he assured them.
President Weah assured the army that his administration will be committed to building an army of professionally trained soldiers, who are well paid, highly educated, and comfortably housed and cared for medically to the highest standards.
“We will ensure that the military is well equipped to carry out their functions as a force for good that will defend their country,” he said.
The AFL program, which was held at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) in Monrovia, was held under the theme, “AFL—a force for good promoting stability and reconciliation in Liberia.”
Historically, the President said officers of the AFL have been overlooked, devalued and looked down upon, all of which he promised will change during his administration.
“It is common knowledge that historically in Liberia, the army has always been looked down upon as the bottom of our social pyramid with no respect, and has always been seen as a dumping ground for the uneducated and the poor.
“Today, I want to tell you, and assure you, that under my command, all of this will change,” President Weah said.
“In the past, you have been referred to as “Nocos” disrespectfully. Under my command, you will not only be respected, but you will be one of the main drivers of our ‘Change for Hope’ agenda.”
He said the AFL, as a professional institution, should have the best doctors, pilots, engineers, and specialists in training and teaching.
“I am committed to creating a conducive environment within the army to ensure that it will be a career home for Liberian professionals,” he noted.
The President said the theme of this year’s celebration reflects sincere commitment to maintaining regional stability while at the same time promoting peace and reconciliation at home.
“This theme further demonstrates a clear path towards our development agenda. With peace, reconciliation, and regional stability, we can realize the great potential of our young.
“As the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, I will seek funds to build a modern health facility which will be the first ever medical facility built in Liberia to address the needs of our military and it will be a teaching hospital with well qualified doctors that will also train the soldiers and save lives,” President Weah declared.
He instructed the Minister of National Defense, Daniel Ziankahn, to begin an immediate assessment of all military housing facilities and report to him within the shortest possible time to enable the government to understand and begin to find lasting solutions to the problems facing the army.
“The lack of housing is one of the primary problems faced by our military personnel as their families have outgrown the existing facilities, and there is an urgent need to address this problem,” he said.
The Commander-In-Chief of the AFL pledged his unflinching support to the army as the country continues to expand on its democratic gains as they all succeed in their mission and constitutional duties.
He lauded the Minister of Defense, Daniel Ziankahn, and Chief of Staff Major General Prince Johnson, III, and said that he trust their abilities to improve the army for the betterment of the country.
Defense Minister Daniel D. Ziankahn thanked President Weah for his preferment as Minister of National Defense to serve his country.
He assured the president and citizens that he is willing and prepared to work tirelessly by ensuring that the army is improved to serve their country.
“The welfare of the AFL remains my top priority and my commitment to the military remains unbending,” he said.