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NEWS | June 4, 2024

Combat medic balances deployment, education and aspiring career in health care

By Pfc. Alexcia Rupert 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

"The Army is an opportunity to get paid to learn health care, and I really wanted to get the experience to grow in my career," said Sgt. Ta'Che' Blocker, a combat medic assigned to the 340th Military Police Company.

Blocker joined the U.S. Army Reserve to gain healthcare experience with aspirations to become a physician assistant.

"I work with some physician assistants, doctors, and nurses, so I always ask them as many questions as I can, so I am prepared for what's next," said Blocker.

While earning her Bachelor of Science in biobehavioral health, she spent most of her time on deployments, first in Cuba and now in Romania.

"It's honestly not easy juggling both school and work, but you just have to find the time," said Blocker.

Blocker is currently taking classes to complete prerequisites and working on applications to become a physician assistant. While in Romania, her day-to-day routine involves seeing patients for sick call, handling patient appointments, and driving patients to larger Romanian hospitals when their needs exceed the capabilities of the troop clinic. After work, she does schoolwork, goes to the gym, and volunteers when she has the time.

At home, she works part-time in the emergency room, aiming to gain experience and network with healthcare professionals.

"Working with Sergeant Blocker is refreshing because she has a very energetic and talkative spirit. It's always nice working with her," said Sgt. Jon Barrios, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the joint aid station at Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base.

Like Blocker, Barrios also aspires to be a physician assistant. He joined the Army for career stability and a steady life.

"It is always important to have medically trained personnel at events for immediate medical response," said Barrios. "Medics should strive to exceed the standards when it comes to learning in this field."

When deciding her future, Blocker's mother encouraged her to join the Army, knowing her interest in the medical field and the opportunities that come with serving.
"My mother definitely had an influence in my decision to enlist, but I just did it on my own and did it for me," said Blocker. “Once I got into it, I started talking to my grandfather more, and then I got my siblings into the military. It does feel nice to have my family in it as well.”

Blocker said that her mom is her biggest role model because she was a single mother. Being the oldest sibling out of three, Blocker believes being a leader is ingrained in her mind, as her siblings have always looked up to her and followed in her footsteps. Having faced numerous hardships, she always likes to tell people they don't have to stay stuck in one spot.

"For anyone interested in the medical field, I think being a combat medic is a great experience because it is not a typical job description.” She said. “Everywhere you go, the medic will be doing something different. I say network and get comfortable with your providers because the more they trust you, the more you can do. You can make the military more of what you want out of it.”

One of Blocker's most memorable experiences was when she was deployed to Cuba. Her unit worked with a U.S. Naval police team and with a veterinarian and their K-9 unit. She was then taught K-9 tactical combat casualty care and even drew blood from a dog.

During her time in Romania, she frequently volunteers at the Red Cross, MWR, and USO and is a medic at some events.

"I volunteered at the Best NCO/Soldier Competition as a medic,” said Booker. “I played as one of the casualties and ended up getting dragged around in the cold. I volunteer because I just like to help others, and if I have the time, I would rather make it valuable."

Blocker advises future soldiers to be proactive in their careers and maximize their opportunities. Like many other Soldiers before her, she has not let a deployment slow down her education or get in the way of achieving her goals.