In the Army, Gary Adams was a medic. He had served the Stewartsville Rescue Squad as an EMT-B while attending Staunton River High School, and joined the military after graduation in 1998. It was an answer for him, giving him an opportunity and a job that he loved and could keep practicing. The Army also gave him the chance to travel—for Adams, that meant Fort Myer, Virginia; Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio; Wiesbaden, Germany; the Kandahar Province, Afghanistan; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Katterbach, Germany; Al Asad, Iraq; and Shindand Air Base in the Herat Province, Afghanistan.
From 2004 to 2013, he was a flight medic, and in that role, he says, “you see the worst that the war has to offer. It was stressful, at first, and then it becomes natural.”
Adams grew up in many ways, and his experiences changed him.
“I’m not as jovial as I used to be. I take life seriously, I’m more organized, I’m worldlier, and I’m proud to be an American.”
The Army, he says, made him more focused on what is going on, in class and in his life. “I have more respect for my professors. In the Army, my instructors were at a higher level than I was. I’m definitely a better student now.”
As a student in the Health and Exercise Science program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences, he’s been adjusting to civilian life, although he’s still in the Reserves. He says he always wanted to come to Jefferson, from the time he was in high school.
“My plan was to become a flight medic for Carilion, but I’ll be 34, and I wanted to look long term at what will get me on the right path.”
This path, he says, will either lead to a job as a coach—he is currently a rec soccer coach in Salem—or eventually attend Radford University’s doctorate program in Physical Therapy.
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