by Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Keith Anthony
I was 16-years-old when I first had contact with a military organization. I had joined the Army JROTC at my high school. After my first day of school, I immediately went to the barbershop and got a flat top hair cut to meet regulations, and found a niche for shining my brass and squaring away my mock active duty dress uniform. I went on to Presbyterian College to pursue a degree in music. Upon graduation, I moved to Charleston, S.C. and worked a few midlevel manager positions for various companies, quickly realizing that it wasn’t rewarding to me. I thought to myself, what about the military? After all, I liked what I knew and needed the structure and organization that the military had to offer. Little did I know that I would get some of the best training of my life and experience a variety of challenges that would forever shape my future, and the person I’ve become.
So, I was set! I would be going to Chicago on Sept. 15, 2008 to join the ranks of the world’s greatest Navy. I had been selected to train on how to manage and work computer systems as an Information Technologist (IT), but the school was full. I was crushed. After that I was scrambling to figure out what specialty area to go into. Considering that I had a music degree, I started rehearsing to audition for the musician specialty, but I found living in open dorm situation with 40 strangers did not quite inspire my singing voice. My time and options were wearing thin. All of my prayers would soon come into fruition with the Presidential Honor Guard. I knew from the first presentation video that I had to be a Ceremonial Guardsman. Watching six casket bearers fold the American flag with such crisp and in sync motions with zero verbal communication sent chills down my spine. I barely made the height requirement, but I apparently did well in the interviews. The training for the Ceremonial Guard was the most intense training that I have ever been through. After my two year assignment, I was still without a specialty. The only rate open was that of the hospital corpsman—my only option. I had no idea what I was getting into. I went to corpsman school and fell in love with medicine! My first duty station as a hospital corpsman was Naval Hospital Jacksonville. At the end of my tour I found myself as the leading petty officer of the Anesthesia Department, leading 14 Sailors. I am currently a hospital corpsman 2nd class stationed at Naval Hospital Naples Italy. I’m responsible for the medical training of hospital corpsman who care for our across all of the surgical services throughout the hospital. Navy Medicine is critical in ensuring the readiness of our nation’s heroes and their families—a key priority of the Navy surgeon general. And one of the ways I contribute to this mission is by helping ensure our Naval Hospital Naples corpsmen are ready at a moment’s notice to deploy and treat patients—under the sea, above the sea and on battlefields.
Some of my most proud moments were when I received my first Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal for rendering honors for more than 2,000 funerals as a casket bearer in Arlington Cemetery; being a part of President Barrack Obama’s presidential inauguration ceremony; applying for the Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program; Leading more than 25 Sailors as the Clinical Leading Petty Officer for the Directorate for Surgical Services and experiencing the success of Corpsmen achieving their own milestones.
To be honest, I never chose Navy Medicine. I do feel that Navy Medicine chose me, and I have never regretted it for one second!
If I could sum up my experience with Navy Medicine in one sentence I’d say that you will never know everything; the personal and professional growth potential is endless through flexibility.
I’m HM2 Keith Anthony and I am Navy Medicine.