By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chuck Walker
Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, May 2, 2011 – Deployments often afford service members an opportunity to experience situations and perform duties outside of their comfort zone. One person who has broadened his skill set during his tour in Afghanistan is Navy Seaman James Q. Beheler.
As an active-duty sailor from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va., with only two years in the service, the hospitalman experienced a lot in his seven months with the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
As a corpsman, Beheler works with a forward surgical team operating a Level 2 care facility at Forward Operating Base Wright in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. The Roanoke, Va., native said he was prepared for many of things he has seen at the facility, and for others, he was not.
“It’s been real busy at times,” Beheler said. “When we’ve got operations going on in our area, many casualties will come in through our [facility]. They’ll use anyone with medical experience to help, and I really wasn’t prepared for that. I’m used to seeing things in the field, not seeing things in a clinical setting. That took some getting used to.”
Beheler, who received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor for saving the life of a fellow provincial reconstruction team member who suffered a gunshot wound, said being on patrols still is the most challenging aspect of his job.
“When you’re out doing missions, we are that medical asset,” Beheler said. “I know that I can fight my way to you, treat you and fight my way back with you. There’s only one medical corpsman on the crew, so you better know what you’re doing.”
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Lynn Redman of San Antonio, nurse practitioner with the team, said she's impressed with Beheler’s performance and that she is so confident in the work he does, she would trust him to treat one of her children.
“He’s handled everything very concisely,” Redman said. “He’s consistent. He’s bottom-line. I don’t have to wonder about him. He is my lowest-ranking corpsman, but he is a hard-charger. He’s very knowledgeable. He should have been a doctor.”
Beheler said one of the best things he’s experienced has been the people he works with and the friends he made within the unit.
Army Sgt. Patrick Johnson of Worcester, Mass., said Beheler is a good medic and a great listener and learner, and that this experience will help Beheler in the future.
“He’s been a delightful subordinate,” Johnson said. “He’s quick to listen, learn and volunteer, and that is at the core of being a great corpsman. He’s going to leave here with so much knowledge. He’s also become a close, personal friend of mine. I’m proud to have met and known him.”
Beheler said his teammates are great to work with and have made his experience rewarding.
“I couldn’t have asked for any better people to work with,” Beheler said. “There are three corpsmen and one Army medic. We all have our little specialty. We work really, really well together. There’s a mutual respect there that has a lot to do with it, too. We actually care about one another.”