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NEWS | Aug. 18, 2020

Balancing Deployment Medical Support, Education

By (Courtesy article) 411th Hospital Center

As online learning took hold across most colleges and universities earlier this year, Spc. Jose Flores-Colon may have appeared like just another online student. But, unlike more traditional students, Flores-Colon, completed his Bachelors in Health Science, at Purdue University, while deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, as a member of the 411th Hospital Center.

Although online learning may be new for many students, the military has supported online and distance learning opportunities for deployed Soldiers for years.  

Flores-Colon balanced his time as a Pharmacy Specialist, providing outpatient pharmacy services for military members and working with night shift medics to provide support during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with finishing his last terms of school online.

“I made time to complete assignments after duty hours to meet all of the deadlines," said Flores-Colon.

Completing his degree was not the biggest challenge for Flores-Colon, “The biggest challenge was being deployed and not being able to assist in the efforts that were back in the states. This has been a challenging deployment watching the turmoil back in the states, and being unable to help,” he said.

But, “I learned that I am able to adapt to changes quickly. I was able to adjust to changes when they started taking place due to COVID-19,” he said.

Looking back on his deployment, Flores-Colon is optimistic for the future, saying, “In the face of global pandemic of COVID-19, I see the Army has the resources and resiliency to defeat this global threat. I had first-hand experiences with soldiers, medics, physicians, and pharmacist as they banded together by social distancing, mask adherence to ensure that we maintained combat effectiveness in the most austere environment.”

After completing his degree with the benefit of tuition assistance, Flores-Colon has bigger plans for his future. “Once I get back to Florida, I plan on getting ready for the application process for medical school,” he said.