By Mr. Wesley P Elliott (Army Medicine)May 9, 2018
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Sgt. Cesar Aguirre joined the U.S. Army because he didn't know what path he wanted to take in life, but his Army experience has shown him a path to becoming an Army registered nurse.
"I was always told all through high school that I was smart but didn't apply myself, so in my senior year of high school I started looking into the military to see what they had to offer," said Aguirre.
He knew that the medical field would always be in demand, so he wanted to be a Combat Medic, 68W. But there weren't any openings available so he would need to wait.
"I remember [the recruiter] called me and said a slot had come up for a combat medic with Airborne in the contract as well, and I was at my friend's house so I went to the recruiting station, right then! I didn't know how long it would be open so I signed that day," said Aguirre.
A few months later, he was leaving for basic training, then to combat medic training, Airborne School, and the 82 Airborne Division, 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He served there as a medic from 2011 until 2015 and deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and a joint service mission in Indonesia.
The concept of jumping out of airplanes seemed cool to Aguirre, and he really enjoyed being a combat medic. "Being in an Infantry battalion, I was one medic with 30 infantrymen to look after, so it was a lot of fun and I got to see and do everything they did, but I wanted to know more about the aid I was doing."
Aguirre started looking at his job as that of a life preserver -- he could keep someone from dying but didn't really know what further he could do to help. He started looking to see what else the Army had to offer. He wanted to learn more, do more, and stay in the medical field.
He had heard about the 68W M6 program that allows service members to be an Army Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), and when he was ready to reenlist, the position was now a new military occupational specialty code, 68C, practical nursing specialist.
After LVN school he began his clinical rotations and was introduced to a new population that he had never worked with -- patients that weren't the military-age, healthy males he normally encountered.
"What really blew my mind was when I worked in labor and delivery and saw babies being delivered, it was more than the video they show in high school. I fell in love with nursing and knew then that this is something I want to continue to pursue," said Aguirre.
While in LVN school, He learned about the AMEDD enlisted to commissioning program that would send him to college to become a Registered Nurse and commission him as an officer in the U.S. Army.
"I didn't know what I was going to do, stay in or get out, but whatever I did I was going to need to go to school and take some classes. I took my core classes, my math and sciences," said Aguirre.
The Army has covered the cost of the college courses, and Aguirre has completed his prerequisite courses.
"I just finished my last pre-requisite in micro biology on Sunday. I've been taking classes non-stop for four years and it will be a nice break before I leave to go to college at the University of South Florida. ACP is an awesome program."
Aguirre describes his career as a series of steps, medic to LVN, now LVN to RN, and he says the Army offers more steps. He says that some Soldiers will join the Army for four years and not take any college courses or use the opportunities available to them, but he is a strong believer that the military experience is what you make of it.
"I was really appreciative of the steps that got me here because I felt like I got to take baby steps towards where I wanted to be and the army opened those doors for me. When I first joined, I had no clue what I wanted to do and starting out as a medic and showing me that I like medicine, made it easier to become an LVN. I really liked this and I wanted to know more. And that's where I am now, I'm doing my ACP application and submitting my packet to go to college for a Bachelors of Science Nursing degree and be commissioned as an RN," said Aguirre.
As for his current position, "as jobs go in the Army I think Practical nursing specialist, 68C, is one of the best jobs that they have, whether you want to stay in or go out of the Army, it has a direct correlation to the civilian sector positions. It prepares you for the outside in that you are licensed by the Texas Board of Nursing."
"There are so many opportunities to take advantage of but if you don't then at the end of the day, it's on you," said Aguirre.