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    I Am Navy Medicine: Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cruz Gabriela Gallardo, Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton

    I Am Navy Medicine: Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cruz Gabriela Gallardo, Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton

    Photo By Douglas Stutz | The eyes have it for optician support... Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cruz Gabriela...... read more read more



    Story by Douglas Stutz 

    Naval Hospital Bremerton

    “I am Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cruz Gabriela Gallardo, assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton

    With approximately eight years in Navy Medicine, Gallardo, from El Paso, Texas, and a 2012 graduate of El Paso High School, is currently the leading petty officer (LPO) for the Optometry Clinic and Optical Support Unit at her command.

    Before the onset of her Navy career, there was initial uncertainty what to do after graduating from high school.

    “I saw joining the Navy as an opportunity to get away, travel and go to school. Didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life. I am the only female in the family to join the service and now my cousins are following my path. Extremely proud,” said Gallardo, noting that she became interested in a career in Navy Medicine as a way to help those in need.

    “I love helping people,” Gallardo continued. “I was always taught to help those in need and to give back any way I could. I always wanted to make a positive impact on people’s lives and in the community I am in. When my recruiter talked to me about the corpsman rating and what they do, I signed up.

    Gallardo’s personal story is a tale of overcoming long odds and persevering over the improbable.

    “My mom came from Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, with two kids to raise. When we first got to El Paso, I went to third grade. I didn’t speak any English whatsoever, so school was a little hard for me. Eventually I learned and got better at speaking it. My brother and I were always in some kind of trouble, so the faster we learned to speak/understand English, the better. I joined the military because my family couldn’t pay for school and I really wasn’t an easy kid to take care of. I wanted to get away, see new places, and learn something new. I was tired of being in the same place. And here I am. The military has taught me a lot about myself and it made me change the way I viewed things. I think I’m doing pretty well so far,” said Gallardo.

    Navy Medicine initially took her to school – Hospital Corpsman Skills Basic course - followed by specialty training at Optometry “C” School to become an optician. Not content with just that advanced training and education, she is also currently enrolled in University of Maryland University College through Navy College distance learning.

    Opticians like Gallardo perform all phases of fabrication with single vision and multifocal spectacles from prescriptions. They are responsible to mark, cut, edge, and insert single vision and multifocal lenses into appropriate frames. They resurface, grind, and polish special single vision and multifocal lenses from ophthalmic lens blanks. They also measure, order, verify, and dispense spectacles; provide spectacle repair and replacement service; maintain and repair optical laboratory equipment; assist optometrists and medical officers in the treatment of patients with ocular disorders; and maintain and operate equipment used for diagnostic screening of ocular conditions. Those opticians like her holding senior leadership roles also perform administrative and managerial duties in optometry and ophthalmology clinics.

    “After graduating Optometry tech school I received orders to U.S. Naval Hospital Rota, Spain then Naval Branch Health Clinic Bahrain. I went to Naval Medical Center San Diego on limited duty orders for knee surgery. Now I am here at NMRTC Bremerton,” Gallardo said.

    Along with her main responsibilities, Gallardo has also volunteered as a Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examiner (SAMFE) assistant.

    “As a SAMFE assistant, we assist the forensic examiner during the exam for a sexual assault victim. We help with the evidence preservation, collection and packaging and storing it,” explained Gallardo.

    She has also added on volunteer responsibility to become a Drug Education for Youth (DEFY) mentor for the youth. DEFY is a self-esteem building program that provides military family children with the tools they need to resist drugs, gangs, and alcohol. Mentors provide guidance, tutoring and help to share on such topics as substance abuse prevention, gang resistance, physical fitness, citizenship, conflict resolution, and self-esteem development for youth ages 9-12.

    As with everyone else at her command, the main focus for much of 2020 has been supporting the effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

    “In optometry, we are wearing masks and thoroughly sanitizing everything even more after every patient. We have patients screened by the drive-through screening process before entering the building. Staff follows all hygiene protocols that are set in place. Just knowing we are part of the solution and we are doing our part to help with this pandemic is gratifying,” noted Gallardo.

    The top priority of Optometry is direct support to the fleet – including units based at Joint Base Lewis McChord - and to that end, Gallardo and her team remain committed to the task at hand.

    “Our Optometry Clinic has a lab attached to it. We fabricate about 300 to 400 glasses a day and we support 47 tenant commands across all branches of the armed forces. We are the only fabrication lab in the Pacific Northwest and a lot of people need glasses. It is always awesome that we can do them here in a one or two day turn around. Might not seem like a big deal but it definitely is,” Gallardo exclaimed.

    Gallardo attests that the best part of her career in Navy Medicine is being able to lead junior corpsmen.

    “Helping them develop into great corpsmen and leaders. Being able to give them the tools they need to succeed and move on,” stated Gallardo, adding that being part of Navy Medicine means being a team. “We help each other succeed and get better at what we do. We are part of an elite group of selfless individuals who are willing to risk our own well-being for our patients and peers.”

    The Navy surgeon general has prioritized operational readiness and with the core mission of producing force medical readiness and medical force readiness, Gallardo attests her duty contributes towards the readiness requirement, even during the pandemic outbreak.

    “Our duty is to help the fleet and make them ready to deploy. With the lab being here, patients receive glasses, and gas masks in a timely manner,” said Gallardo.

    When asked to sum up her experience with Navy Medicine in one sentence, Gallardo replied, “Navy Medicine has taught me more than just medicine. It has taught me to be willing to change and adapt to anything that has been set in place.”



    Date Taken: 07.21.2020
    Date Posted: 07.21.2020 15:28
    Story ID: 374302
    Location: BREMERTON, WA, US 

    Web Views: 467
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