By Stephanie Bryant, Tripler Army Medical Center Public AffairsAugust 21, 2012
HONOLULU (Aug. 21, 2012) -- "I really want to get it across to Soldiers that if you have disabilities or (medical limitations) to not let (it hinder them) or prevent (them) from achieving goals," said Staff Sgt. Shane Giltner, U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks.
On his third attempt, the Ear, Nose, and Throat technician, who works at Schofield's Audiology Clinic, earned the Expert Field Medical Badge, or EFMB, Warrior Base, South Korea, near the Korean Demilitarized Zone in May. The EFMB, which is difficult to earn even for the average Soldier, was especially challenging for Giltner, who has the disadvantage of being diabetic.
When he was in the seventh month of his deployment in Iraq in 2005, Giltner was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes.
"They call it late-onset juvenile diabetes," Giltner said. "I was 21 years old and have no history of diabetes in my family."
According to Sgt. Maj. Michel Pigford, healthcare delivery sergeant major, Office of the Army Surgeon General, who served as Giltner's first sergeant at Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson, Colo., from 2007-2008, the average success rate for earning the EFMB during a cycle is 16 percent; only three percent of current active-duty medical personnel qualified to compete for the EFMB have successfully earned the right to wear the badge.
Each time Giltner competed to earn the coveted badge, he had to jump through hoops and get numerous approvals. Despite the paperwork obstacles, with the help of his command, Giltner never gave up until he reached his goal.
"Persistence and drive are two qualities that will lead to excellence and personal pride in providing the absolute best care that a medic can administer when he or she has another Soldier's life in hand," said Pigford, who served as the site noncommissioned officer in charge for EFMB in the DMZ when Giltner earned the badge. "The fact that (Giltner) successfully managed his adult-onset insulin-dependent diabetes to conquer the rigors of competing for and earning the most coveted badge awarded to Army medics is an accomplishment that distinguishes him from all other EFMB candidates."
Giltner said despite his limitations, earning the EFMB helps justify that he is where he is supposed to be in life: serving as a Soldier in the U.S. Army.
"I have had people tell me that I should not still be in the Army, because I am a diabetic," Giltner explained. "I do not believe a medical limitation should be used as a crutch. It can be frustrating to hear Soldiers give excuses for why they cannot accomplish life goals."
"I just want to encourage Soldiers to keep pushing themselves to achieve what they want," Giltner added.
Pigford believes that Giltner's fortitude will take him far and set a good example for other Soldiers.
"Highlighting a Soldier like Staff Sergeant Giltner illustrates that despite facing what seem like insurmountable odds and adversity, a Soldier who continues to work with sheer determination to accomplish the mission at all costs can achieve any goal," Pigford said.