Huntsville native training for the front lines of Navy's fight against coronavirus
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Hospitalman Travis Brooks; Credit: Navy Office of Community Outreach

Hospitalman Travis Brooks, a native of Huntsville, Alabama, is learning skills that will be vital in the ongoing fight against a worldwide pandemic.

“The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic brought an invisible enemy to our shores and changed the way we operate as a Navy,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. "The fight against this virus is a tough one, but our sailors are tougher. We must harden our Navy by continuing to focus on the health and safety of our forces and our families. The health and safety of our sailors and their families is, and must continue to be, our number one priority.”

Brooks is preparing to protect sailors and their families by learning the latest in health care and training at the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC), a state-of-the-art DoD healthcare education campus that trains military medics, corpsmen and technicians.

Brooks is a 2014 Christians Brothers College graduate and 2018 Northeastern Alabama Community College graduate. According to Brooks, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Huntsville.

“Growing up in various countries, taught me how to adapt and become a leader,” Brooks said. “Because of my ability to listen, understand my environments and take pride in my action, this has helped me to become a great sailor.”

The U.S. Navy Hospital Corps is the most decorated career field in the Navy. Corpsmen have earned 22 Medals of Honor, 179 Navy Crosses, 959 Silver Stars and more than 1,600 Bronze Stars. 20 ships have been named in honor of corpsmen.

In its century of service, the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps has supported millions of sailors and Marines in wartime and peace around the world. As the years have progressed, technological innovations are transforming medical training for the next generation of hospital corpsmen, according to Navy officials.

“It means to go above and beyond, and exceeding expectations in taking care of our fellow shipmates and Marines,” Brooks said.

METC, located on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is the largest enlisted healthcare education campus in the world. It employs the latest in medical training technology and evidenced-based strategies that enhance learning and advance educational practices across the globe.

According to Navy officials, METC is recognized as a global leader in allied-health education and training and is an adaptable learning organization that allows for future expansions and rapid responses to the developing landscape of military medicine and evolving civilian medical practices.

“METC’s mission is vital to force readiness and the nation, as we produce the finest medics, corpsmen, and technicians,” said Capt. Thomas Herzig, METC commandant. “When students graduate, they augment active duty, guard and reserve component military medical teams. Whether heading to new assignments around the world or returning home to support their local communities, these new graduates will be ready.”

METC is a schoolhouse for Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard medical trainees with 49 academic programs in various medical specialties. These programs include: Aerospace Medical Service Apprentice; Combat Medic; Ancillary, Dental, Diagnostic and Healthcare Services; Hospital Corpsman Basic; Nursing and Specialty Medical and Public Health Training.

While attending school at METC, Brooks is enrolled in the Specialty Medical Program, specializing as a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman.

“SARC conducts a wide range of mission with the Marine Corps reconnaissance and special operations command units,” Brooks said. “It’s more than just parachuting, diving and shooting, it’s about the medicine, and being mission ready and adapting to our environments.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Brooks, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition that dates back centuries. Their efforts, especially during this time of challenge brought on by the Coronavirus, will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who provide the Navy the nation needs.

“I know in my heart, there is nothing I would rather be than a U.S. Navy corpsman,” Brooks said. “It is a great honor not only to wear my uniform but to be out in the fleet helping people, caring of their well-being and making sure we all get home safe.”

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