Regional Command Southwest
FORWARD OPERATING BASE EDINBURGH, Afghanistan, April 17, 2012 – The call for help comes over the radio, and the team prepares for what could be another long day or night.
Seaman Grant Reeder, a Navy hospitalman, stays calm as he dresses the tables. He enjoys the next few seconds of quiet before the commotion of the crew urgently moving in the casualties.
Reeder, a native of Montoursville, Pa., originally wanted to be a master-at-arms, responsible for security and law enforcement. He was studying criminal justice at college before he decided to join the military, he said, but that was not available to him in the Navy. After some persuasion from another corpsman, Reeder said, he thought field medic corpsman sounded like something he would like to pursue.
Training for the medical field is a long process, and it takes months to prepare for a deployment. After recruit training, Reeder moved across the street to study at corps school, and from there he headed to Camp Pendleton, Calif., to study at field medical school.
During a training hiatus before school, Reeder worked at the hospital, handling medical records and getting more training. Finally, he trained with Marines at a field medical battalion, where he learned about field medical care.
Since corpsmen embed with the Marines, they do everything the Marines do in the field: land navigation, hiking, going to the range and plenty of physical exercise.
“All the training is definitely worth it,” Reeder said. “It really does help.”
Most corpsmen end up deployed and on the front lines. Reeder serves here with the shock trauma platoon and in forward resuscitative surgical systems from 1st Marine Logistics Group’s Bravo Company, 1st Medical Battalion.
“I’m deployed, and I love it,” Reeder said. “I wanted to go somewhere and have an influence.”
This was not always the case, Reeder admitted. He had some fears surrounding deployment, he said, but with some help from his friends and mentors, he was able to overcome them. Now, he said, he actually looks forward to his next deployment.
Reeder’s dedication led to a recent honor, as he was selected for his unit’s Blue Jacket of the Quarter award.
“He is a powerhouse. He is a key player in everything that happens,” said Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Terry Green, senior enlisted corpsman for the shock-trauma platoons that serve forward operating bases Edinburgh, Jackson and Sanguine. “Whether it is unloading and loading the patients, working in the STP, he is in the mix, making it happen. Some people surprise you with what they bring to the table. He was the guy who surprised me.”
Reeder has been in the Navy more than two years and said he plans on staying in. He would like to pursue a career in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and combine some of his criminal justice education with his experience as a corpsman, he added.
Reeder said his uncle, who retired from the Navy after serving 33 years as a culinary specialist, told him about Europe and life aboard ship. Those tales, he said, sounded like something he would like to do.
After his uncle’s death in an automobile accident, Reeder said, he had trouble focusing during his next college semester and knew he wanted to do something different. He wanted to honor his uncle, he said, and joining the military just made sense.
“He influenced me a lot,” Reeder said. “This is what he would want me to do.”
Reeder said he likes the camaraderie of his unit and being with Marines. “As long as you are around a good group of people, it does not feel like you are in another country or a war zone,” he said.