“I joined the military to serve my nation and during this pandemic I have been able to use my training and experience to support and care for the people of my country,” said Army Reserve 1st Lt. Brittany Fouts. “This is one of the most prestigious opportunities I have had in both my military and civilian career.”
Fouts, a critical care nurse, is referencing her experience as one of the more than 250 Army Reserve medical professionals mobilized in Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces as part of the Department of Defense support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to COVID-19 in South Texas.
In total, U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, assigned approximately 590 military medical and support personnel from the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Texas.
Fouts, a member of UAMTF - 7452, arrived in Edinburg, Texas in late July. UAMTFs are 85 person teams of doctors, nurses, combat medics, respiratory therapists, and support personnel that expand the capacity of care that civilian medial facilities can offer their community.
“I served as an emergency room nurse at DHR health in Edinburg, Texas,” Fouts explained.
“Working in this environment was an educational experience on the importance of adapting to overcome hardships,” she continued. “We had military nurses working alongside local civilians and contracted nurses from all over the United States, and despite different routines and specialties we have were able to provide excellent care to all patients.”
She was quick to credit the teamwork between the UAMTF and civilian hospital staff for their successes.
“While working a shift in the ER, I was presented with a very unstable patient who had COVID,” she recounted. “It’s very overwhelming to work in an unknown environment, but the team you work with can make all the difference. I was thankful to have the team we built while we worked together to save this patient’s life.”
Raised in Long Island, New York, Fout’s family relocated to Anthem, Arizona in 2007 after her father retired from the New York City Police Department. It was his response efforts on September 11th that initiated her interest in the military.
“My parents, Scott and Renee Peccia, raised us to appreciate community service and to respect others,” she shared. “I went military and my brother Anthony serves as a police officer, as does my husband, Brett.”
Fouts graduated from Boulder Creek High School in Anthem and went on to earn her nursing degree from Arizona State University in 2015, where she commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
“I always wanted to serve my country. Joining the Army and more specifically, the Nurse Corps, allows me to be a part of a prestigious and respected profession,” she explained. “The constant opportunities for new adventures and career progression are benefits as well.”
The Army Reserve offered Fouts the flexibility she was looking for in the military.
“I serve in the Reserve because I enjoy balancing both my civilian career and military career side by side. I am able to use the benefits and experiences of both to continue to grow and serve as a proficient nurse and Soldier.”
Fout’s mobilization for the COVID-19 response brought her back to Texas, where she participated in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Nurse Summer Training Program at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio in 2015.
“This is where I learned my love for working in trauma and emergency medicine,” explained Fouts. “My experience at the Nurse Summer Training Program gave me insight into where I would drive my civilian career.”
When not mobilized, Fouts is employed by HonorHealth in the trauma neuro intensive care unit and emergency room in central Phoenix. It is there she first treated patients infected with COVID-19. She worked in a COVID designated intensive care unit there from March until she was mobilization in late July.
She shared that working there, “prepared me mentally and emotionally to support my fellow comrades who did not have the previous experience caring for COVID-19 patients.”
A self-proclaimed outdoor and travel enthusiast, Fouts traditionally hikes and drives the trails of Arizona with her husband, and the dogs, Rocky and Juneau, to decompress and rejuvenate mentally from her work. But while in Texas with her Army family, she leaned on her teammates.
“While mobilized, we planned as many walks and runs as we could fit in to the schedule. We also had team building nights where we grilled dinners together and discussed the experiences we had while at work.”
As Fouts completes of her mission, she looks forward to reuniting with family, and congratulating her brother and his wife Mallerie on their recent nuptials in-person. Due to the mobilization, she was limited to participating in the wedding via a video call.
“My family has been nothing but supportive during my entire length of service. I cannot ask for a better backbone to my career,” she stated. “I would not be the Soldier or nurse I am today without the support from my husband, parents and brother.”