REACH Program creates medical service opportunities

10 Jul 2013 | Lance Cpl. Justin A. Rodriguez

Many resources are available to wounded warriors throughout their recovery of injury, including the Reintegrate, Educate and Advance Combatants in Healthcare program which gives Marines and sailors an opportunity to once again serve our country, but from a medical point of view.

The program is a joint initiative between the Navy Medicine’s Total Force and the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and is used to recruit and employ wounded warriors into medical positions within the federal government. The program also offers support throughout their recovery as they transition back to active duty or veteran status.

“This program has been a savior for me already,” said Gunnery Sgt. Russell Whaley, an intelligence specialist aboard Marine Corps Installations-East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, who’s been a student in the program for two months. “When I enrolled, everything was laid out for me from my job position to my mentor. It’s been great so far.”

There are 14 career field opportunities available at the Naval Hospital aboard base, said Kevin Kesterson, a Camp Lejeune REACH program career coach and retired command master chief petty officer.

Available career fields include: case management, dental assistance, diagnostic radiology and medical record management. The longevity of the program depends on the student’s field of choice and commitment to the program.

After enrolling in the program, each student is assigned a mentor from their selected field. Mentors teach, supervise and quiz participants while on the job.

“It was nerve-wracking when I started the program,” said Kurt Sturgen, a former staff sergeant, and now a file clerk in the Naval Hospital. “There’s a change of lifestyle when you enroll, but you become used to it.”

Sturgen recently graduated from the program after a year and was given the opportunity to keep working at the hospital.

Five locations across the United States host the REACH program and provide wounded warriors with on the job training while establishing opportunities for a career in the medical field after the military.

For more information, contact Kevin Kesterson at