Warrior grad serving half a world away

By Robert Zahn

Santa Rita, Guam – A 2016 Clyde A. Erwin High School graduate and area native is serving in the US Navy at the US Naval Hospital Guam. Hospitalman Apprentice Alyssa Opheim is serving her country in the far-off location as she trains to be a naval hospitalman.

A Navy hospitalman is responsible for the prevention and treatment of disease and injury, assisting health care professionals in providing medical care to personnel, conducting preliminary physical examinations, as well as performing medical administrative, supply and accounting procedures.

“I get to work closely with my patients,” Opheim said. “I get to help people every day where I work.” She credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in her native Western North Carolina. “Kindness can take you a long way and helping others is what I have learned,” Opheim said.

Naval Hospital Guam is comprised of the main hospital in Agana Heights and two branch clinics, medical and dental, on Naval Base Guam. The hospital’s staff consists of 516 active duty and 201 civilians, contractors, reservists and volunteers who serve more than 26,000 beneficiaries.

According to officials at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the ships, submarines, aircraft and Navy personnel forward-deployed to Guam are part of the world’s largest fleet command and serve in a region critical to U.S. national security.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet encompasses 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. All told, there are more than 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 uniformed and civilian personnel serving in the Pacific.

“The people that are here have been through a lot of different experiences,” said Opheim. “Being able to learn something from all of them is pretty amazing.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Opheim’s proudest achievement is becoming a corpsman.

“It’s taught me some incredible things,” Opheim said. “It’s helped me find my calling.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Opheim and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy is being a part of something bigger and being a part of a great cause,” Opheim said.

Editor’s note: Zahn is a Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class in the Navy Office of Community Outreach.

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