JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Brooke Army Medical Center partnered with the American Red Cross again this year to hold the BAMC Summer Youth Program from June 13 to July 31.

A group of 76 enthusiastic teens between the ages of 14-17 sacrificed part of their summer vacation to participate, volunteering a combined 5,800 hours to work in clinics and sections throughout the hospital including emergency medicine, logistics, optometry, hematology, behavioral health, neurology, laboratory services, pediatrics and much more.

15-year-old Nathan Culbreath waited in line with his mother nearly three hours to garner one of the last coveted stops in this popular program.

At first Culbreath wasn't happy about being in logistics, but he soon changed his mind.

"I wasn't happy about this job, because I thought it was just pushing mail around," he said. "Then I started and it was really fun, because I got to know what goes on behind the scenes."

Culbreath assists Alvin Locoe, second floor logistics area manager, to make sure critical supplies are readily available to medical personnel who preform lifesaving operations daily.

Logistics plays an important role in saving lives, Locoe said. "We need to have the correct items in the correct locations at all times. Lives depend on it.

"He's a great kid. He catches on well. He goes to football practice and then he comes here and gives us everything he's got," he said.

"I realize that not everyone gets to see how a hospital works from the inside. Hopefully, by doing this Red Cross program it will impact these kids, so maybe they can see that they could save lives someday."

"This is a great teaching and mentoring opportunity for the staff as well," Locoe added.

Amber Wolff, who is helping mentor Culbreath, agrees.

"This is a good learning opportunity for young people," she said. "It provides structure for someone who hasn't been in the work field before. They get to learn a bunch of different things.

"Nathan and the other volunteers are very eager and helpful. I look forward to working with them every day."

Culbreath said he really wants to become a pilot, but if he did work at a hospital he would chose logistics because it affects the whole hospital.

"We strive to give youth an inside look at the world of healthcare and to hopefully inspire them toward that goal, a career in medicine, or to perpetuate their scholarly and career pursuits," said Michael Dulevitz, chief, BAMC Volunteer Services. "With luck, a few of them, because of their experiences at BAMC, will be our healthcare providers of the future."

Volunteer Services marked the end of the program with an award ceremony for the youth volunteers Aug. 2. BAMC Commander Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson and Command Sgt. Maj. Albert Crews handed out certificates to each volunteer as an acknowledgement of their hard work.

In brief remarks, Johnson praised the students for "stepping up" to do something different during their summer vacation, their parents for their support, and the BAMC staff who took time to assist the students.

"It absolutely warms my heart to know and to recognize these outstanding young professionals," the general said. "Individuals who decided they're going to do what it takes in order to reach their goals, or do what it takes to understand what their goals should be and make informed decisions about what they want to do in life.

"It's a pretty important piece for us to not only provide these youth with an example of how they can spend their volunteer time," he continued. "But also for them to get exposed to some of our nation's most valued treasure -- our patients, their family members, and those who have gone before us, our retirees and their family members."