Soldier in the spotlight

Spc. Felicia Whatley
First published in
SFOR Informer# 163, June 26, 2003

Second Lt. Jarmo Jortikka is a 26-year-old engineer for the Finnish army reserves. He works in conjunction with U.S. Army Civil Affairs in Tuzla to help rebuild bridges, roads and homes in the country.
In Oulu, his hometown in Finland, Jortikka spends his time studying and when he's not studying, he is snowboarding, inline skating, or fishing near his cottage with friends. What Jortikka enjoys most is travelling. "Travelling is number one, if I have the time and the money."
The Finnish army reserves offer the opportunity to save money for college while travelling the world as a soldier. Jortikka has spent five years in the army. He has found that being a soldier is a "good experience to work abroad and serve his country."
Finding this mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) listed in the Finnish newspaper, Jortikka explains: "This mission was a dream of mine since I was very young. Finns have been in peacekeeping missions since 1956. It is respected in our country and it is a good experience where you can really see the results in the local people we help."
Jortikka wears proudly the Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC) patch. This patch demonstrates the commitment the Finnish engineers have in working with soldiers from multiple backgrounds to help rebuild BiH. He is also involved with the Economic Action Group, a group that teams up with international humanitarian groups with activists from Denmark, France, The Netherlands and the United States.
"We have a link with banks and credit loan organisations that donate seeds or a tractor so that a family can cultivate to sustain themselves," he said. Jortikka's position with the organisation involves helping Bosnians see what their needs are. "There are some towns where unemployment is still 80 percent and there are many opportunities to help."
By the end of the summer, all the Finnish soldiers will leave BiH. Jortikka looks forward to finishing his college education. He longs to enjoy the Finnish summer, fishing where "it is so far north that even at midnight, it is light outside."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Finland

Click on thumbnail to enlarge