State Spotlight: Washington

Combat Medic Skills Help Soldier Save Lives in His Civilian Job

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – When Deputy Sergio Sanchez arrived at the scene of a drive-by shooting during a night patrol shift with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department in Spanaway, Wash., he found a man bleeding from his leg.

Sanchez, 28, a six-year veteran in law enforcement, exited his squad car with his personal first aid kit and instantly went to work.

The victim had a bullet wound that went straight through his leg and was bleeding profusely. Within minutes, Sanchez stabilized the man’s injuries with gauze and a tourniquet for transport to the local hospital.

Sanchez didn’t learn his life-saving skills on the police force. He also serves as a combat medic (68W Health Care Specialist) with the Washington Army National Guard‘s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery Regiment.

“I knew exactly what injury he had and immediately I knew what to do,” he said, referring to the gunshot victim. “It was essentially what I learned in [combat medic] school [at Fort Sam Houston] in San Antonio.”

Having formal military training as a combat medic has given Specialist (SPC) Sanchez an extra skill set that often sets him apart from his peers in the police department.

“We don’t usually see that kind of qualification and experience with a brand new deputy,” said sheriff’s department Sgt. Glen Carpenter, Deputy Sanchez’s shift supervisor, adding that most deputies do not have formal training as a medic or a first responder.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Sergio Sanchez also serves as a Specialist and a combat medic in the Washington Army National Guard.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Sergio Sanchez also serves as a Specialist and a combat medic in the Washington Army National Guard.

The drive-by shooting was not the only time SPC Sanchez has used his Army medic skills in his capacity as sheriff’s deputy. Several weeks after that incident, he was called to the scene of a hit-and-run where he found a man lying in the middle of the road.

“When we got closer we saw a large amount of blood coming from his head,” he said. “He was not responsive and barely breathing.”

SPC Sanchez said his training kicked in, and he stabilized the victim’s neck and spinal cord. He applied gauze and pressure to the head injury, and soon the injured man began to show signs of life.

“He eventually started moaning, so that was a good sign,” he said. “I just kept him stabilized until [the] fire [department] got there.”

SPC Sanchez was hit with the medic bug when he was a young boy and came across an old first aid bag from his father’s time in the Army.

“[I] was immediately drawn to what was inside, and spent hours studying the many different pieces of medical equipment,” he said.

However, even with his training, SPC Sanchez said he doesn’t think he, alone, saved these two people’s lives. As a combat medic he is trained to treat, stabilize and move patients on to higher care.

“I just treat and stabilize until fire personnel get there. They start doing [higher level] medical intervention.”

Being a combat medic allows SPC Sanchez to be a much more valuable commodity to the profession he loves so much.

“Being a deputy … I love it,” he said. “Not every day is the same. Being a medic adds a way for me to be helpful and effective to the citizens and my partners.”

So if you’re looking for a way to help your fellow citizens, consider joining the Army National Guard, which has a dual mission to serve the community and the Nation.

Service in this branch of the military is a part-time commitment, and this flexibility allows Soldiers to pursue civilian careers. You’ll receive training for a Guard career, too. Check out our job board to explore more than 150 options, in fields like engineering, aviation, military police, medicine, and armor and field artillery. And for personalized advice, contact your local recruiter, who can also walk you through the Guard’s benefits like money for college.

From an original story by Tech. Sgt. Erich B. Smith, National Guard Bureau, which originally appeared in the news section of in May 2017.

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Women Soldiers Get More from the Guard

Lieutenant Colonel Says Opportunities and Benefits for Women Growing Steadily

In honor of Women’s History Month, On Your Guard takes a look at 21st century changes that are providing more opportunities for female Soldiers through the perspective of a West Point graduate who is now a leader in the Florida Army National Guard.

Fresh out of West Point in 2000, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Elizabeth Evans chose Fort Hood, Texas, as her first duty station. As the largest Army installation in the country, she expected to find the widest range of opportunities for a female civil engineer like herself.

But out of 10 engineering battalions there, 9 were combat mechanized engineering battalions, restricted to men only, with women allowed to serve only in support roles within each headquarters company. The other was a construction battalion that was open to both men and women serving as an engineer platoon leader, but it had a waiting list more than two years long.

LTC Evans decided to request assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division’s 20th Engineer Battalion, knowing she would be able to serve only in a support role. It was here that she served as a support platoon leader within a support company, handling logistics for her male engineer peers and friends from West Point, but her heart was in commanding a combat or construction unit.

She was later told that 80 percent of the Army’s construction formations, which were 100% open to women, were in the Army’s reserve components – the Army Reserves or Army National Guard, causing her to question if the opportunity for a female engineer officer to lead engineer Soldiers would ever truly exist for her or others on Active Duty.

So, in 2005, frustrated by the lack of options available, LTC Evans left the Army for the Florida Army National Guard, which has a dual mission of serving the Nation and responding to local emergencies, like extreme weather events.

“When I looked at the mission of the National Guard and the fact that they responded to states of emergency that the governor requests help on, I thought, ‘This is awesome. If a hurricane hits, we come in with our engineer equipment, and we get to help our citizens and neighbors restore the community that I will be a part of.’”

Because Guard service is part-time for the majority of its members, she also had the opportunity to pursue her engineering career in the private sector as a superintendent and project manager in residential and commercial construction. She is a certified General Contractor and serves as the Southeast U.S. Director of Construction for Source Refrigeration and HVAC, Inc.

Within 6 months of moving to Florida, she was asked to command a Horizontal Construction Company in Live Oak, Fla., finally having the opportunity to command engineers as an engineer officer. She is now Commander of the 53rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion outside of Tampa, a battalion that is comprised of a combat engineer company, signal company, military intelligence company, and a headquarters company.

“I had multiple opportunities for command which never would have happened had I stayed in the active Army,” she says.

Out of seven battalions in their Infantry Brigade within the Florida Army National Guard, two are led by women: LTC Elizabeth Evans, 53rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion Commander, left, and LTC Cindy Harkrider, 53rd Brigade Support Battalion Commander.

Out of seven battalions in their Infantry Brigade within the Florida Army National Guard, two are led by women: LTC Elizabeth Evans, 53rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion Commander, left, and LTC Cindy Harkrider, 53rd Brigade Support Battalion Commander.

Still, LTC Evans has seen a lot of progress as far as the Army allowing equal opportunity for men and women, and in attitudes of acceptance of female Soldiers as equals in her 17 years of military service, pointing to these signs of progress: women were accepted and have graduated from Sapper School, the combat engineers’ defining school for their field. Women have been accepted to and graduated from Army Ranger School, which is the Army’s premier tactical leadership course; female Soldiers were successfully attached to Special Forces in Cultural Support Teams in Afghanistan; and in 2016, the Department of Defense opened all military direct combat jobs to women.

LTC Evans, who led 300 missions in a combat zone in Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, is a proponent of equal opportunity, but ultimately, the fit needs to make sense.

“If there’s a high-speed female Soldier that can throw on a ruck and march as long and as far and as well as her male peers, then she should absolutely have that opportunity,” she said. “I don’t think every male Soldier is right for some of the positions in the Army, just like I don’t think every female Soldier is right for every position in the Army. But, if you evaluate Soldiers as a person and put the best person in the job, then I think we’re going in the right direction.”

But even just last year, LTC Evans said she felt she had to plead her case as to why she was the right person to serve as a task force commander for a counter-narcotics mission training military components in three Central American countries.

“There was some hesitation: is a female going to get the same respect from these other countries because they don’t have females in leadership roles and because of the cultural differences between us?” she recalls. In the end, she was told by several high ranking officials, both in the U.S. and in Central America, “You proved to us that this can work. Women can do this and do it with record-setting results.”

For LTC Evans, that mission was a chance to inspire cultural change in other countries. In her own unit and within the Florida Army National Guard, she enjoys the opportunity to develop and mentor Soldiers.

“I think I’m extremely fortunate to be a female in the Army National Guard because of the opportunities I have to be a role model to others, both male and female. I have the ability to show younger Soldiers coming in that anything is possible regardless of your gender.”

Her advice for anyone considering joining the Guard is gender neutral.

“Go in all in. Push yourself. Don’t be scared. Challenge yourself to be more and do more because you will get 10 times in return whatever you put in.”

She looks at the Guard’s future as being full of possibilities.

“There are great opportunities. We could sit here and focus on the past where there were restrictions on females serving in certain roles, but let’s all move past that. Let’s appreciate where we’ve come from, but let’s focus on the opportunities all Soldiers have to lead our Army into the future.”

So, if you are curious about all the opportunities within the Guard, our job board is a great place to start. You can search Guard careers by keyword, location, or category. There are more than 150 options available in fields like armor and field artillery, intelligence, and logistics support, just to name a few. Contact your local recruiter for more information.

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State Spotlight: New York

Deployments Make Army Guard Doctor a Better Hometown Physician

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - Ebola and malaria aren’t diseases doctors working in the hometown of the Baseball Hall of Fame normally expect to encounter.

But Dr. William LeCates, a kidney specialist and medical director of Bassett Healthcare Center has experience with both diseases, as well as battlefield medicine, as a result of his “other” career as Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) William LeCates, a New York Army National Guard doctor.

His military career, said LTC LeCates, has only served to make him a better physician overall.

LTC LeCates joined the New York Army Guard in 2009, putting his knowledge and skills to work for American and allied military personnel.

He said he always had an interest in serving in the military, but medical school, establishing a medical practice, and having three kids along the way meant putting off that aspiration.

Finally, with his family settled in Cooperstown, his practice established, and the realization that at age 39, he needed to join the military now or never, he decided to seek a commission in the Army Medical Corps.

“The Guard was a perfect fit for me,” he said. “I knew we could stay in our home, Debbie (his wife) and my kids could be secure and fixed in our schools and the community, and I could carry out my military duties.”

LTC LeCates serves as a member of the New York Guard’s Medical Command, or MEDCOM. He conducts medical readiness assessments at Camp Smith Training Site and Fort Drum, and treats Soldiers during training periods.

His service has also meant deploying overseas, including twice to Afghanistan and once to Liberia.

His first deployment in 2010 was with the Iowa Army National Guard’s 334th Brigade Support Battalion at Camp Blackhorse, Afghanistan, as an augmentee to the battalion’s medical company.

LTC William LeCates, shown on deployment in Liberia, serves as a doctor in the New York Army National Guard and as a kidney specialist in private practice. He said that his service in the Army Guard has given him a greater breadth of medical knowledge benefiting both his civilian and military patients.

LTC William LeCates, shown on deployment in Liberia, serves as a doctor in the New York Army National Guard and as a kidney specialist in private practice. He said that his service in the Army Guard has given him a greater breadth of medical knowledge benefiting both his civilian and military patients.

LTC LeCates worked in a barebones medical clinic – “Role 1” in military parlance – where the job was to provide basic primary care, emergency treatment for injuries and wounds, and stabilize patients so they could be transported to more sophisticated treatment facilities.

His second three-month deployment, the standard for reserve component doctors, was in New Kabul Compound, an American military facility in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital city, in 2013.

This time he worked at a major U.S. forces headquarters as one of the physicians for 800 American personnel. The compound was also adjacent to an Afghan military hospital, where he worked with Afghan medical personnel to treat casualties.

LTC LeCates’ most recent deployment was a six-month non-combat mission to the West African country of Liberia, where he had an opportunity to see medical care at both the individual and large-scale levels, as the country dealt with the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak.

“The country is small enough, and the cities are close enough, that in a single day I could be in a Liberian clinic looking at young kids that are getting malaria, and in the evening I could be working at the ministry of health and helping to understand their Ebola response efforts.”

Overall, his military experience has been a tremendous benefit to his work as a doctor back home in Cooperstown, a place he chose for his career because he gets to perform complicated, challenging medicine in a small-town setting, LTC LeCates said.

“I think military leadership training is the best type of leadership training available,” he said. “I am fortunate in my civilian job to have an opportunity for a medical administrative role here at the hospital, and that [military] training in mentoring and motivating helps.”

The military medical system is also very effective at using lessons learned, and making on-the-spot improvements in clinical care, he added.

“The civilian sector is slower at those changes. It has given me a chance to look at how a big system can bring about changes to make improvements,” LTC LeCates said, adding that military doctors have pioneered new trauma care techniques on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, and knowing those skills is always useful.

“The Army is very good at training its deploying doctors to understand the basics of point-of-injury care, and how to keep the Soldier safe,” he said.

So, if you have an interest in the medical field and serving in the Army National Guard, you don’t have to wait until you’re done with medical school to join. Visit our job board to learn more about these Guard careers:

68W Health Care Specialist

68X Mental Health Specialist

68P Radiology Specialist

68E Dental Specialist

68S Preventive Medicine Specialist

68G Patient Administration Specialist

68K Medical Laboratory Specialist

68J Medical Logistics Specialist

Experienced nurses, doctors, and veterinarians also are needed. Contact your local recruiter to learn more about any questions you have.

From an original article by Eric Durr, New York National Guard, which appeared in the news section of in March 2017.

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