Occupational therapist joins Reserve to better understand, connect to patients
June 7, 2012
HONOLULU -- One of Tripler Army Medical Center's occupational therapists answered the nation's call, May 30, when she took the oath and was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Brandon Petersen, who has worked at Tripler as an occupational therapist for the Psychiatric Continuity of Care Services for three years, spends her days treating service members and dependents for various behavioral health issues.
Petersen said she is excited to now be a part of what she considers to be the greatest team in the world.
"The skills and experiences I will obtain as an Army occupational therapist will make me a better therapist, so I can better serve our service members returning home from deployments," Petersen explained. "I feel the more I understand their life and experiences the better I can serve their needs and their family's needs."
Eight months ago when Lt. Col. Bonnie Lowe, chief, Reserve Affairs, Pacific Regional Medical Command, started assisting Petersen on her journey, Lowe knew that Petersen would make a great addition to the Reserve.
"As a Department of the Army civilian, Brandy already understands the military culture and protocols, but perhaps more importantly is the fact that Brandy exemplifies the professional caring attitude of an (Army Medicine) officer," Lowe said. "That, coupled with her positive personality and her overall optimistic outlook on life, makes her an invaluable asset to the U.S. Army."
Joining the Reserve is not a small undertaking. On top of her full-time job at Tripler, Petersen will now have weekend and evening commitments.
"Being an Army Reservist is more than a part-time job," Lowe said. "It is an additional career."
However arduous the demands may be, the commitment is not daunting to Petersen and she contributes that to her Tripler ohana.
"Working here at TAMC, I have been so inspired by my military co-workers and patients that I want to work alongside them here and down-range, if needed," Petersen said. "They inspire me to be all I can be."
"It is a great testament to (TAMC) that one of (its) own civilian providers enjoys her work with the military so much that she is willing to make the sacrifice and dedicate herself to experiencing and learning what it means to be a Soldier, all because she wants to better serve her country," Lowe said.
But for Petersen this is just the beginning. She said her commission is just one more step toward reaching her life goals.
"The Army Reserve will allow me to apply for many educational programs that are not available as a Department of Defense civilian and one of my goals is to become a physician assistant (PA)," Petersen explained. "PAs are a highly-needed job skill in the military and I feel with my 13 years of medical experience as an occupational therapist that I would make a very good PA."
"I feel being an Army Reservist will expand my knowledge, make me stronger and I will learn so much more about what it really means to serve our country," Petersen added.