The ability to send, receive and protect pertinent data and information within an organization is central to completing everyday tasks in any organization. Military units, regardless of their branch, require safe, reliable communication networks to check email, complete online training, conduct teleconferencing, update personnel records, run reports, or chart on medical patients. A military hospital is no different and requires knowledgeable and experienced information technology Soldiers on the ground who know how to set up, maintain and operate these complex systems.
Joint Task Force Med 374 is fortunate enough to have some of the best in their field, including Capt. Bee Vengthisane, security manager, Sgt. Amanda Kuchinski, accounts manager, and Spc. Zachary Mariani, help desk manager. Each possesses different specialties within the IT field to meet the varying needs of the Role III Hospital Center.
Mariani, 25B, IT specialist, ensures that users have access to the network assisting Soldiers with access to required desktop applications. He also assists with software updates to all the computers on the network, mapping printers, connectivity of the software programs in and out of theater, as well as general troubleshooting.
"I just like the overall effect I have on the hospital," said Mariani. "I like knowing that my job is to help the provider do their jobs, which affect the Soldiers they are caring for. When the different systems are not working, providers cannot enter encounters, order labs and medications, view lab results and imaging. This gives my job meaning. The other thing I like about my MOS is the opportunities I have to grow and become more proficient."
Mariani currently holds a number of IT certifications and is interested in earning his Certified Ethical Hacker Certification. This accreditation helps improve cyber security by testing systems for vulnerabilities and anticipating attack points within a network system.
While Mariani is constantly being pulled all over the hospital to help fix equipment, he did share that he wishes users would try and do some of their own troubleshooting before calling. Ironically, a sign is posted outside the S6 section that reads, "Did you try restarting it first?"
Other issues the section deals with are network vulnerabilities and operational security (OPSEC) threats.
"This is always a concern," said Kuchinski the section's NCOIC. "You always have to be careful how you hook equipment into the network. We are always reminding and educating people not to plug in things they are not supposed to. You really have to take it seriously; you don't know what could be on them [removal devices]. A virus can take down the whole network. It can manifest fast, even with all the firewalls we have set up."
Like Mariani, Kuchinski also enjoys working with computers and networking.
"There are a lot of benefits to working in the IT field in the military. There are a lot of certifications that you need, and the Army will help you get them, which can be used on the civilian side," she said.
Looking back on the deployment, Kuchinski was appreciative of the number of resources the Army has on-site to help with completing her job, which has assisted her in completing many of her tasks, troubleshooting, as well learning new skills.
"We use the help desk a lot, and they are always willing to help us with projects. They have been very helpful with the problems we encounter. Working with a good group makes the job much easier," she said.
The help desk is comprised of over a dozen contractors that assist with various IT operations, servicing, installing, and upgrading the current network. Last month, Capt. Vengthisane and the Joint Task Force commander, Col. Robert Gregg, recognized the help desk support group during one of the weekly meetings presenting each member with a certificate of appreciation.