Medical NCO proud to serve
July 8, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - "Deploying to Iraq and leaving my daughter Jaila when she was only five months old was the hardest thing I've ever had to do after joining the Army," said Sgt. LaurenBacall Snowden, administrative non-commissioned officer, Department of Family Medicine, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.
For Snowden, a native of Phoenix, serving in the military involves many sacrifices, but her pride in serving her country makes it all worthwhile.
At age 21, Snowden was ready for new opportunities and life experiences when she joined the Army in March 2005.
"It was different, the first two weeks are like shell shock," said Snowden about her basic training experience in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. "But Advanced Individual Training in Fort Sam Houston, was a blast," Snowden said. She trained there to become a healthcare specialist.
"What I enjoy about being a healthcare specialist is I can do pretty much anything. I can work at a lab or a clinic, I can be clinic NCOIC, or can do patient care. I have a lot of options. I like healthcare, to me when people come in and they are sick I can help them," Snowden added.
Before Snowden enlisted in the Army, she was trained at a hospital in Phoenix where she became a certified nursing assistant. After working for three years, she was promoted to a certified nursing assistant supervisor. Ready for her next move, she was stumped when someone more qualified was promoted to the position she wanted.
"That was a wakeup call for me, and I knew then I needed to do something more. I decided to join the Army" she said.
Although her father, who served in the Navy, wanted her to join the Navy, she stood firm on her decision to join the Army. Her Mom was scared but proud of her, saying it was a good choice. "There was no friction at all from my parents. They were very supportive of me and happy for me," Snowden said.
After enlisting in the Army, Snowden realized it was a good decision.
"I like to see progress, and in the Army you can get promoted if you work hard. There are a lot of things you can to do set yourself apart. You can take classes, earn awards and certificates, you can a mentor on different topics.
After four years and three months of service, she is still proud to gear up in the early morning.
"Honestly, sometimes it's hard to get up so early in the morning but there's that accountability to my peers that I'm responsible for. I'm proud of being an NCO and being in the Army, mainly because of the history behind it," said Snowden.
"When I got back home to visit my mom, wearing the uniform makes me different than everybody else. She always asks me to wear my uniform when I go visit her at work. I feel proud" she added.
At Darnall, Snowden is responsible for maintaining medical readiness for CRDAMC Soldiers by keeping them informed of changes to Army policies and hospital operation orders that might hinder their deployment status.
"One area of importance is medical readiness, which confirms a Soldier is ready to deploy," Snowden said.
"I want to make sure that the clinic NCOICs have a heads-up. So I do my best with keeping them up to date so they are not scrambling around at the last minute, that's what leaders do," said Snowden.
Snowden finds the time to train her Soldiers, make sure their Families are doing well, and that they find the time to go to school.
"Being a NCO is important to me, it's more than making sure someone's at formation at the right time," Snowden said. "You need to know them on a personal level and make sure they're okay. In the end, you're training them to take your place" she added.
"It's been said that training makes Soldiers. But seriously, if you're doing it the way you're supposed to be doing it, and you're putting your whole heart into it, you're like a key part of the whole Army," Snowden said. "And that makes me really proud to know that it's not just me but my rank. The sergeant or staff sergeant rank is the key. We are important. I'm proud because we're kind of like the middle ground," she said with a heartfelt look on her face.
Snowden applied her soldiering skills during her 15-month deployment with Co. C 15th Base Support Battalion 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, to Baghdad.
Thinking back about the hot days in Iraq brings a smile to her face. She said her best experience in the Army was while with the 15th BSB.
"My squad leader in my previous unit was awesome. I wanted to do everything that she did. I thought she was the best thing since sliced baloney and cheese," Snowden said.
Snowden said her leadership positions have taught her how to accomplish things, how to fix things, and to move forward. She learned those traits from other NCOs.
"When I first got here (CRDAMC), my squad leader said he wasn't going to hold my hand and walk me down the path. He said he was going to show me the path and guide me through the stuff that was in my way," she said.
Snowden believes that with great leadership and self-discipline, a Soldier can benefit from an abundance of trainings and schooling that is offered.
"I think the Army is good, and it has a lot of opportunities for enlisted and officers. You can do practically anything you want to do. I'm proud to serve for the Army because among the sacrifices you have to make, they honestly do try to balance it out with all the programs and services available. You just need to want it. And I do," she said emphatically.
She is enrolled in Central Texas College and is just a few semesters away from getting her associate degree in biology.
Meanwhile, she's working hard to get promoted to staff sergeant. Snowden is considering getting an additional skill identifier and possibly becoming a recruiter or drill sergeant in her Army career. "I think I'll be retiring from the Army," she said.
Snowden's achievements include the Army Commendation Medal, two Army Achievement Medals, and the Iraqi Campaign Medal with a Bronze star.
"I'm proud to serve, I think this is probably the best decision I've made," Snowden grinned.