KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany –
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Sgt. Josephine Charlotte Morton hoped for a summer stint of Army Reserve duty in Romania, but instead wound up at the U.S. Army Health Clinic – Kaiserslautern.
That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, she said, for both her own professional development and the shorthanded clinic, located at U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz’s Kleber Kaserne.
“It’s been an incredible learning and growing experience. I’m more confident and I’ve increased my medical skills,” said Morton, a noncommissioned officer assigned to the Medical Support Unit – Europe, a 7th Mission Support Command unit headquartered nearby at Daenner Kaserne. “It’s also an immense pleasure to me. Every single day I meet new people.”
Morton’s day is as varied as the patients she helps, everyone from teenage Soldiers to German nonagenarians, dependent spouses of retirees. She grabs a tape measure to find the circumference of a baby’s head. One patient needs to read an eye chart. Others requires flu shots. All need their computer records updated.
“The Army is paying me to do the job I love, to take care of my own,” she said.
When Morton, 26, of Boulder, Colorado, joined the Army Reserve about five years ago, medicine was a likely fit. Her family members work in healthcare. As a teen she served in a fire brigade and in college volunteered in emergency services.
But it wasn’t until she moved to Germany, and a position with MSU-E, that she found the opportunities she’d been looking for.
With MSU-E, she’s worked in Italy offering Army Reserve Soldiers classes in combat lifesaving. In early 2015, she went with the Army as a medic to Spain, using college-acquired Spanish to also act as a translator.
“The MSU is the best unit I’ve ever been with,” Morton said. “It’s a family over there.”
Home is now U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, where her husband Thomas serves with the 554th Military Police Company, The couple has two dogs, Mouse and Cassie.
This summer, Morton originally had orders for a short tour at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, known to troops at MK. While on vacation in Greece, her unit called. MK fell through, they said.
That meant working in the unit’s personnel or operations sections. Or she could work for the active duty clinic, where the MSU-E often hold medical readiness events, they said.
“Heck yeah, I’ll work at Kleber,” Morton told her supervisor. “I get to do my job. That’s awesome. And I have the chance to drive home and see husband on weekends.”
As a Reserve Soldier, Morton had to integrate with the active-duty troops, who were unfamiliar with the Reserves’ contributions to the total force.
“It’s been a topic of discussion,” Morton said. “Being here gave the active duty Soldiers a fresh perspective on Reservists.”
Morton explained how she and fellow Reserve Soldiers maintain the same physical readiness, conduct training and are responsible for inventories, just as their active duty counterparts. She also explained how hard she worked to become an NCO and how she’s working on her degree. Now, Morton is looking to attend nursing school and gain an active-duty Army commission.
It’s the first time that Sgt. Eric Kunawotor, also a medical NCO, ever worked with a Reserve Soldier. Morton’s first days at the clinic were challenging, said Kunawotor, 38, of Ghana, moved to Baltimore in 2005 and joined the Army five years ago. But that quickly changed, he said.
“If you came in here now, you wouldn’t even know that she’s new,” Kunawotor said.