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    From Wedding Days to COVID - One Sailor’s Calling

    Hometown Hero

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Leslie Koxvold | Smyrna, Tenn. – Logistics Specialist Second Class Heather Beardsley conducts a...... read more read more

    Smyrna, Tenn – When stepping into Naval Operation Support Center (NOSC) Nashville reservists can expect to find the hustle and bustle of Sailors zig-zagging their way around the building. Every reservist has 16 hours a month to maximize on the taskers they need to ensure they are mobilization ready and available to support the mission of the U.S. Navy. It can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate, but the welcoming, warm and helpful demeanor of Logistics Specialist Second Class Heather Beardsley is one which can soothe the anxious mind of any career-driven Sailor.
    As the Command Career Counselor for the Supply department, Force Professional department and Deck department at the Operation Support Unit in NOSC Nashville, Beardsley, a Bethel, Con. native and Madison, Tenn. resident, dedicates her whole drill weekend to other Sailors and their careers. Beardsley herself has only been a U.S. Navy reservist since October 2020, but having been a Full Time Support (FTS) staff member and the Command Career Counselor at NOSC Nashville, she is more than comfortable with navigating a reserve career.
    Looking back on when she first enlisted in February 2014 Beardsley recalls, “I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself.”
    While all her friends and classmates were enrolling in their local community college, Beardsley had her sights on a career as an active duty Navy Corpsman (HM). However, when HM wasn’t available the day she was processed through the Military Entry Processing Station (MEPS), the option for FTS was presented to her.
    “I only wanted to go active duty, but the guy at MEPS basically sold me on it,” said Beardsley. “FTS, basically the way it was explained to me, is the same set up as active duty, but we support the reserves.”
    As a part the active duty counterpart within the Navy reserve, Beardsley was off to her first duty station with Navy Fleet Readiness Center Aviation Support Detachment (FRC ASD) in Ft. Dix, NJ. There she became skilled in her rate as a Logistics Specialist (LS) by procuring and sending out parts and equipment to the squadrons her command supported, though she never had an opportunity to see how her work impacted the mission.
    When Beardsley arrived at her second duty station as an LS for NOSC Nashville she said, “I was seeing a direct impact of what I was doing by interacting with the reservists.”
    While her two tours as a member of the Navy’s FTS force were very different Beardsley said, “They were both very rewarding.”
    Though she found a sense of purpose in her work, Beardsley began to realize she was ready for a change.
    “I had for a while been wanting to pursue something different,” Beardsley said about transitioning out of an active status and pursuing her civilian career as a Wedding and Event Planner.
    Beardsley currently works part-time for an event planner in Dixon, Tenn. where she has the opportunity to grow in a field she has always been interested in. She also is working on completing her Bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management at Middle Tennessee State University with the intention of starting her own event planning business.
    Beardsley’s dream is to one day purchase her own farm property where she can host events and weddings. Though the location for her future business has yet to be determined, Beardsley has already established a name and is working on a logo for her dream business.
    While Beardsley’s ultimate goal is to become a successful event planner, she never walked away from her interest in the medical field. She fills any spare time she may have as a part-time Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) on the COVID floor at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville, Tenn.
    “I love helping people and helping people during a global pandemic can be rewarding,” Beardsley said.
    Beardsley’s time on the COVID floor at St. Thomas began in November 2020, and it is all she has ever known in her medical experience. With the 12 hour overnight shifts, Beardsley said, “It is the hardest thing I have ever done.”
    Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has seen over 541,000 deaths, with over 11,000 deaths in Tennessee. Beardsley said, “The loss is something you are never prepared for.”
    Beardsley has found some relief in the drop in COVID cases on her floor, allowing the unit to transition back to an observations unit. Though the cases are fewer and the stakes aren’t as high, Beardsley says she and the staff around her take all the same precautions as before, both on and off the COVID floor. Beardsley continues to monitor herself for symptoms and gets tested regularly.
    “Even though I have been vaccinated I still wear my PPE and I still wear my mask in public,” Beardsley said.
    Beardsley’s life outside the Navy has manifested differently than her experience as a LS. However, even between her busy and demanding roles in her civilian life, Beardsley knew she wasn’t ready to separate herself entirely from the Navy.
    “My heart was kind of pulling me in a different direction, but I wanted to stay involved with the military,” said Beardsley.
    Beardsley is looking forward to the opportunities the Navy reserve has to offer her. As a reservist she holds a position to support Naval Air Station Sigonella and she looks forward to spending some time in Italy.
    “I have only been outside of the country once before. I never got to deploy when I was FTS and that was something I liked knowing as a reservist I could volunteer for a MOB.”
    With all the professional elements in Beardsley’s life, she recognizes it is not without struggle. Beardsley’s said the hardest part about being in the Navy reserve is balancing all the different moving parts of her life while trying to remain as active as possible in the Navy reserve.
    “Reservists get the stereotype of only being there once a month, which I don’t agree with,” Beardsley said, “I think you get out of it what you put into it.”
    As the career counselor in her unit, she is able to see first-hand how much one can get out of their career and she plans to continue to put as much effort as she can into hers. Whether she is working in a supply office, conducting a career development board, or performing funeral honors, Beardsley will put everything she has into her Navy career while also fulfilling new dreams outside of the military.
    “My professional advice is to follow your gut and do what you want to do,” said Beardsley, “There is not a time limit on what you want to do with your life or how. Just follow your dreams.”



    Date Taken: 05.04.2021
    Date Posted: 05.04.2021 15:12
    Story ID: 395612
    Location: NASHVILLE, TN, US 
    Hometown: BETHEL, CT, US
    Hometown: MADISON, TN, US

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