By Hospital corpsman 1st class Ailyn Smith-Torres
In 2001, I was attending nursing school and working as a certified medical assistant, a position I had held for more than seven years. One day, as I was driving down 32nd street in San Diego, California, I saw an advertisement for the U.S. Navy Reserve. I wrote down the number and called the recruiter right away. I told him that I was 32 years old, a single parent, and a full-time student, and would like to be in a position where I can take care of others. He told me that the Navy accepts applicants up to 40 years-of-age and that I could be a hospital corpsman (HM) with my background. I didn’t know what an HM was so I told the recruiter I would do my research. When I read about HMs and why the Marines call them ‘Doc’, I told my recruiter I was ready to sign up. He came by my office the next day with my contract and here I am 14 years later.
As an HM in the Navy Reserve, I stayed in the medical field and was able to care for others.
I was mobilized for the first time at Naval Medical Center San Diego in September 2006 for one year. There I utilized my medical assistant skills and the skills I learned during drill training as a reserve corpsman. NMCSD has one of the largest wounded warrior care facilities in the country and I was assigned to the MedSurge department where I worked directly with wounded warriors. It was a very fulfilling to know I made a difference by being there, talking to them and taking care of their families.
Today, I get to mobilize Navy Reserve Medicine members whenever and wherever the Navy needs them. Being able to give our reservists the opportunity and excitement that I experienced on my first deployment is priceless. You always have to be ready when it comes to the Navy Medicine mission, whether it’s a two week, 30-day or a yearlong tour. When I mobilize my Navy Medicine reservists I make sure they are ready in that moment to fit the billet.
Being a part of Navy Medicine’s readiness mission has truly been my box of chocolate.
I am Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ailyn Smith-Torres. I am Navy Medicine.