Erica Rospert, pursuing her Associate of Applied Science Degree in Surgical Technology at Jefferson College, ultimately wants to teach for the program. She loves challenges, she says, and can’t tolerant when things stay the same. The Army seemed to suit her perfectly. In July 2005, she was working at a bank on a military base and became enamored with the lure of discipline, challenges and constant changes that seem inherent with a military career.
Her life as a soldier brought those challenges. At one point, she was in charge of moving detainees, via convoy or helicopters in Iraq.
“Mortars hit our Forward Operating Base Loyalty almost every day,” says Rospert. “Two months after coming home from Iraq, the whole FOB was blown up.” According to news reports, the attack that took place on June 6, 2011, killed five U.S. service members and injured 12 others. But before Rospert was extracted from that situation, she faced plenty of action, making sure the wounded got to the aid station at Loyalty.
“I carried the wounded, bleeding from their extremities, their faces having been blown off, missing legs,” she says. As a woman, an MP (military police), and as a drill instructor, Erica had no trouble garnering or retaining the respect of her fellow soldiers. She was “squared away—did my job, didn’t complain, carried my weight without complaint,” she said of her formula for getting along the rest of the soldiers.
Even though she admits that she “doesn’t like boring,” the excitement of battle can sometimes result in tragedy. One of her comrades was killed by a mortar, leaving a wife and two children stateside, she recalls.
“It was just one mission, one convoy, and he was killed instantly. We take our freedoms for granted,” she says. Erica cites the simple luxuries that none of us thinks about—running water, electricity, buildings not built out of mud, a stove rather than a campfire, “more than just flip flops on our feet.”
As a drill instructor from 2010 to 2012, just before she separated from the Army, she had an opportunity to continue giving back. “I was able to train, coach and mentor [new recruits] into becoming American soldiers,” she said of her time at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Rospert feels she grew up during her time in the Army. Now, as she faces different challenges, she is able to better work her way through them due to her maturity, focus and discipline.
“I learned a lot about myself, and have done things I thought I’d never do, like going to a foreign country and coming back alive,” she said in all earnestness. “The service put a very good head on my shoulders. The stuff you see on TV? I lived those moments.”
Rospert, only 27, has seen a lifetime in just a few years, and is now ready to tackle a new batch of tasks that come along with being a Surgical Technician.
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