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    No Ordinary Doctor

    No Ordiary Doctor

    Photo By Sgt. James Geelen | U.S. Army Sgt. Jacqualyn Soper (left), a petroleum supply specialist with 59th...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. James Geelen 

    4th Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade

    FORT CARSON, Co. –The stories of people who gain U.S. citizenship differ greatly. Some involve people falling in love and getting married. Whereas others are more dramatic stories of individuals overcoming many obstacles to arrive in the U. S.
    For U.S. Army Spc. Sergio Fernandez, a petroleum supply specialist for 59th Quartermaster Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, the journey crossed three countries and lasted three years.
    Born in communist Cuba, Fernandez’s family struggled to provide for him and his three siblings.
    “There were only two good things growing up in Cuba,” Fernandez said. “Your education is free and your medicine is free, but your overall living conditions are not good. Doctors are only paid $50.00 a month. This barely covers the cost of food and clothing.”
    Early in life, Fernandez was influenced greatly by his parents to follow their path into the medical field.
    “My father is a dentist, my mother is a nurse, and my aunts are doctors too,” Fernandez said. “That’s why I went to school to become a doctor. I studied for eight years to be able to start my own family practice.”
    Cuban doctors are often forced to go on missionary trips to work for allies of the Cuban government.
    “I was forced to go to Venezuela to work in a medical mission there,” Fernandez said. “I didn’t want to go, but I couldn’t say anything. When that happened, I just seen the positive side of that mission as an opportunity to run away.”
    On August 23, 2015, Fernandez did just that. The day after his 27th birthday, he boarded a bus and headed to Columbia.
    “I got on a bus near Caracas, and had to travel for eight hours to get to Columbia,” Fernandez said. “I was nervous crossing the border. The Venezuelan army has checkpoints there, they could have stopped me and taken me back to the mission. I feel that I got lucky getting out.”
    Once he arrived in Columbia, Fernandez went to a U.S. Embassy to seek asylum.
    “When I went to the embassy for asylum, I showed them all of my papers proving that I was a doctor,” Fernandez said. “At that time there was a Cuban medical program, and the embassy gave me a Visa to get to Miami.”
    After arriving in Miami, the program manager placed Fernandez in Austin, Texas. He then contacted some friends who helped get him to Houston.
    “I went to Houston and was able to get a job in a doctor’s office as a medical assistant,” Fernandez said. “I worked 12 hours a day in the office doing everything a doctor normally does.”
    It soon became a struggle for Fernandez to be able to balance his studies and his desire to help others.
    “My main goal was to become an MD again,” he said. “In order to achieve this goal, I needed the time to study for my citizenship test, and the long days at the doctor’s office did not help. Then my sister-in-law told me the Army could help me get my citizenship.”
    Fernandez then met with a local recruiting office to see what they could offer him.
    “They told me that since I only had a green card, I could not be an officer even if I was a doctor,” Fernandez said. “However, they told me about their citizenship program and how they could help me, so I enlisted in August of 2017.”
    Upon completion of basic training and advanced individual training, Fernandez was stationed at Fort Carson.
    “He’s the type of soldier that you can ask do anything and he never complains,” said Sgt. Jacqualyn Soper, Fernandez’s first team leader with 59th Quartermaster Company . “He executes whatever task you give him without you having to babysit. He’s super responsible.”
    Fernandez passed his citizenship exam in 2018 and is currently retaking the Armed
    Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test (ASVAB) so that he can become an officer.

    “He’s meant to be so much more than what he is now,” Soper said. “Everyone in the
    Company wants to see him succeed. He has all of our support.”

    “I’m trying to do the ‘Green to Gold’ program,” Fernandez said. “I would like to do
    nursing school or attend the physician assistant program. This will help me to be able to pass
    the medical board and become a licensed doctor again.”
    Fernandez would like to be a doctor in Austin once he retires from the Army and hopes to be able to bring his parents with him.
    “They were mad at me in the beginning,” Fernandez said. “Now that we talk every weekend, and they know that I did this for a good reason. I try to help them by sending money, but I would like for them to move here with me.”




    Date Taken: 04.05.2019
    Date Posted: 04.10.2019 11:08
    Story ID: 317571
    Location: FORT CARSON, CO, US 
    Hometown: AUSTIN, TX, US
    Hometown: MANSFIELD, PA, US

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