PACIFIC OCEAN (June 17, 2012) - Reservists from across the U.S Armed Forces are bringing new perspectives and skill sets to the Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12) mission.

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet sponsored humanitarian and civic action mission that brings together U.S. military personnel, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies to build stronger relationships and develop disaster response capabilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The reservists form a large part of the 1,200 member team and come from across the United States bringing a wide variety of skills and experiences to the mission.

Army Spc. Charles Palmares works as a civil affairs specialist in PP12’s Civil Military Coordination Center (CMCC). PP12 is his first mission since joining the U.S. Army reserves.

Palmares said, “Working as a reservist, especially as an Army reservist, on this mission was, initially, quite challenging. At first there was a lot of culture shock that came from working with the active duty personnel.”

“You are trying to fit in to their way of working and it took me a while to get used to it, but once I did, I realized that not only did we work very well together, but that I brought a lot of new skills to the table that they didn’t have before.”

A key advantage of having the reservists aboard the lead platform, the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), is the diverse range of civilian experiences and expertise they bring to the mission.

Information Systems Technician 1st Class Veronica Conrad works as the automated data processing (ADP) work center supervisor (WCS) aboard Mercy.

Conrad said, “Every reservist has two sets of skills, one military and one civilian. We can use these skill sets to complement each other and to give us a broader range of what we have the capability to do.”

Conrad said that as a reservist she has been able to teach those around her new ways of doing things and has also been able to learn a great deal of new information from her active duty counterparts.

“We can all learn so much from each other,” she said. “There are so many talented people on this ship from so many different fields that I think everyone will be able to walk away from this mission with much more knowledge than they had when we arrived.”

The reservists aboard Mercy also bring a unique perspective to working with other civilians during the PP12 mission.

LT. j. g. Jon Sumner is a nurse in one of Mercy’s operating rooms.

“We drill with the military one weekend a month and two weeks a year, but the rest of the time we live as civilians,” said Sumner. “This helps when we are working with civilians here on this mission, whether it be in the form of non-governmental organizations here on the ship or with patients ashore, because we can better understand their thought processes and their needs.”

Despite their vast arrays of knowledge and experiences, both in and out of the military, some of the reservists still have to work hard to prove themselves to their active duty counterparts.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Melissa Trenum is the leading petty officer (LPO) for PP12’s medical surgery unit aboard the Mercy.

“It was kind of tough trying to prove myself when I first came aboard,” said Trenum. “It took some time and a lot of hard work on my part to prove that not only did I know how to do all of the things I needed for my job, but also that I was capable of leading my unit.”

“Now we are all working together as one of the best groups of people I have ever had the privilege to work with,” commented Trenum.

The PP12 mission gives reservists the opportunity to step outside of their normal workflow and engage with patients and militaries from across the globe.

“I joined the reserves over seven years ago with the dream of coming out here and doing this mission,” said Trenum.“It took some time and hard work but I have finally made my dream become a reality. As a reservist, you really couldn’t ask for a better mission than this.”

For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.