ROTC at LRMC: From classroom theory to combat injuries

by Chuck Roberts
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Public Affairs

For 22 ROTC cadets it was the opportunity to transcend from the theoretical study of health care at a stateside university to hands-on medicine at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center where more than 63,000 wounded warriors have been treated from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wrapping up a month of Cadet Troop Leader Training Aug. 14, cadets reflected on hitting the ground running, treating battle injuries on patients their own age coming straight from the battlefield, and the reward of seeing the smile of a Soldier able to sit up for the first time after surgery.

Below are three cadets who shared their experience:

Elizabeth “Bea” Lauren Foley, 22, nursing student from Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis.

Why do you want to become a health care provider?
I love the fact that I’ll interact with people to improve their well-being in a personal and professional way. In the military it’s an added honor to work with Soldiers and their families.

Describe what the experience has been like for you at LRMC.
As a nursing student cadet, I’m consistently questioned about what my life will be like after college. A bit unsure myself, I’d simply answer: “I’ll be a nurse in an Army hospital.” This internship has allowed me to live the life of an Army nurse. Through this experience, I’ve decided this is truly where I want to be and it has motivated me to finish strong this final year of nursing school.  

What was most rewarding or meaningful thing about your time at LRMC?
The people. It was inspiring to see the blended staff of Army, Air Force, Navy and civilian workers use their individual strengths to provide optimal care to Soldiers. Even more inspiring was the determination of young Soldiers to regain strength and their desire to return to duty.  

You have served where all wounded warriors from downrange are treated. Describe what that was like.
A young Soldier was very thankful when I brought him a midnight snack, a cold glass of water, and emptied his urinal. I wanted to tell him it was the least I could do in comparison to his sacrifice for our nation. Then I realized as a nurse, I reflect appreciation by providing the best possible care at all times.

Was there a special or memorable experience?
We cadets had the opportunity to join the CASF (Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility) team for a day of inward/outward missions. It was a great honor to receive the wounded service members from downrange and to prepare them for their journey home. It was one of the most eye-opening days of my life. Seeing their faces made the consequences of war very real.

Rochelle Kathleen Lawson, 21, exercise science major from East Tennessee State University

Why do you want to become a health care provider?
The ability to train and inspire patients during their recovery phase is the greatest experience a health care provider can encounter. As a future occupational therapist, I have had the opportunity to watch patients rediscover basic activities of daily living after a severe injury. Watching patients come from the operation room to the later stages of recovery is a phenomenal experience. I have watched patients sit in a chair for the first time, stand for the first time, get dressed for the first time, and walk for the first time after surgery.

Describe what the experience has been like for you.
My experiences here have been incredible. The professional staff of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is willing to pass on their knowledge to students and allow for hands-on training.  

What was most rewarding or meaningful?
The most meaningful aspect of working at LRMC has been working with war heroes of this world. The knowledge I have gained will allow me to train those heroes for their next mission — the mission of living normal lives.

You have served where all wounded warriors from downrange are treated. Describe what that was like.
Serving wounded warriors at LRMC has been a humbling experience. LRMC works not only with patients of the USA, but with patients from all NATO forces. I have had the opportunity to work with Soldiers who have recently been struck from explosives and are anxious to get back on the battlefield. The wounded Soldiers at LRMC have given me insight to what serving my country is really all about.  

Was there a special or memorable experience?
Every day has been a memorable experience. From the medical knowledge, the people to interact with, and the endless opportunities to experience Germany has been a trip to cherish. Yet, the most memorable experience I have had was watching the facial expressions of a Soldier and his family while he walked for the first time after his injury.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am grateful to the people of LRMC for taking their time to pass on their knowledge, the Cadet Command for giving me this opportunity, and most importantly the Soldiers of NATO forces who give of themselves for the betterment of this world.

Joshua Manatt, 21, nursing student from Arkansas Tech University

Why do you want to become a health care provider?
I joined the Arkansas National Guard as a medic and from there I decided that I wanted more knowledge and skills to be able to help the most people the most effective way.

Describe what the experience has been like for you?
Taking care of the wounded warriors straight from downrange is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for a college student. How many nursing students can say they did that while in school?

What was most rewarding or meaningful about your time at LRMC?
Hearing the stories from the Soldiers and helping them cope with what has happened to them, whether it be a broken arm or an amputated limb. All of us here joined for a purpose and it is easy for us to say that we will give up anything and everything for our country. Well, so many of these Soldiers have given up just that and have shown me what it means to be an American Soldier.

LRMC, with a staff of more than 3,000 Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Soldiers and civilians, provides medical care for more than 245,000 U.S. military personnel and their families within U.S. European Command. LRMC, which falls under Europe Regional Medical Command, is the only Level I Trauma Center verified by the American College of Surgeons, and joins 141 stateside hospitals with Level I ACS verification.

LRMC serves as the evacuation and treatment center for all U.S. service members and civilians injured in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as service members from 48 coalition forces. The LRMC footprint includes the Vincenza Health Center and a total of six U.S. Army Health Clinics in Italy, Belgium and Germany.