MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The Reintegrate, Educate and Advance Combatants in Healthcare program has finally arrived for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune wounded warriors, and with it, the dream of achieving a medical career has become more of a reality.
REACH is a joint initiative from Navy Medicine's Director of Total Force, Jerry LaCamera, and Philip A. Burdette, the director of Wounded, Ill and Injured at the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
At a presentation given to senior medical and Wounded Warrior Battalion - East personnel at the Wounded Warrior barracks, Nov. 3, Stephen Payton, human resources specialist with BUMED, talked about how a wounded warrior would be able to use REACH to accomplish their goal of achieving a medical job.
"A referral can be made to Camp Lejeune's career coach by a military treatment facility professional. From there, they discuss the sailor or Marine's career goals and their background," said Payton. "Once they enroll into REACH and sign a commitment goal, the career coach, student and mentor create an individual development plan that fits their medical needs."
From there, the training toward their career goals begins as the wounded warrior is enrolled into the required college courses, meets with their mentor and also receives 10 hours of experiential learning. Mentors are medical professional role models who can assist the wounded warriors in relevant classes and can also provide experiential learning.
Throughout their training, the career coaches meet with the students on a one-on-one basis to go over their progress and ensure they are reaching their goals.
The brief was also given to several wounded warriors who have previously talked about medical careers they wanted to pursue.
"If someone is interested in becoming a nurse, we can work with them and arrange for them to shadow a nurse here at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune," said Payton. "During that time, they get to watch a medical professional do their job and also ask questions to get to better know what they are pursuing."
While the brief was given to wounded warriors and the medical professionals who work alongside them, service members are also eligible to receive part-time and even full-time employment if they meet certain requirements. These requirements include a referral to the program from hospital personnel, a liklihood of being discharged with a 30 percent or higher Veterans Affairs Disability Rating and having 90 days or more before the end of service.
Once a student's education is complete, REACH will work hard to place a wounded warrior in a full-time federal service position.
For one marine the REACH program is just what he needed to pursue his medical career.
"I want to be a nurse and hearing about this is inspiring," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Armes, a wounded warrior with WWB - East. "I plan to pursue this program and use it to help me reach my long-term goal of becoming a trauma or (emergency room) nurse."