Upon completing his high school education, this Ridgefield teen plans to enlist to fulfill his dream of helping good people
Michael McCormic Jr.
RIDGEFIELD — Joseph Campbell admits he’s never been much of an academic. In fact, he claims that his favorite high school experiences were through classes in which he developed a skill rather than learned a lesson. Where Campbell’s plans are leading him, however, he doesn’t need to be a straight A student; what he needs is a love of country, a sense of brotherhood, and the desire to serve.
As a graduating senior from Ridgefield High School, Campbell says that he intends to join the Army soon after he graduates. In fact, while Campbell’s brothers in arms are taking the fight to the enemy, Campbell will serve a different, equally noble purpose: saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been fixated on catching the bad guys and helping the good guys,” Campbell explains. “And in recent years, I’ve been looking into different career options, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to get what I want out of life; to help good people and to stop bad people; is to join the military and become a combat medic.”
For many of those who dream of joining the U.S. Military, their dream is to serve this country and what it represents. For Campbell, however, it’s even more than that. Becoming a combat is about both serving his country, and serving those who serve his country alongside him.
The road to becoming a combat medic is about as easy as one might expect the training to be for a job that puts the lives of those around you in your hands. According to Campbell, it all begins with 9 to 14 weeks of basic training.
Campbell says, “To my understanding, everybody in the Army goes through that, where they teach us how to march, teach us how to hold a rifle, teach us how to take orders, teach us the rank structure, just basic stuff.”
Following basic training, Campbell explains that he will then be sent to specialize as a medic through a training program that is expected to last over a year. According to EMS1, an online resource for the EMS community, combat medic training is similar to EMS and EMT training in some ways, but differs in the sense that combat medics are trained to handle more traumatic injuries.
“They’re going to send me to another school for, I think was, 18 weeks of medical training and trauma care, where I’m going to learn how to be a medic, how to patch up people who get hurt in the field, and how to work in the field myself without compromising myself,” says Campbell, who indicated he could then qualify for an additional 53 weeks of training in the nursing course.
When Campbell begins active duty services in the Army, his responsibilities will vary depending on his location. While on base, he will be expected to work as a “medical assistant,” assisting doctors by doing clean up and clerical work, and occasionally treating patients who are not critically injured.
Upon deployment, however, the duties of a combat medic become similar to those of an EMT.
“If someone gets hit out in the field, they’re going to send me out there to find them, protect them, and hold them together until we can get them back to the real doctors,” explains Campbell. “Either that, or they might stick me with the unit that’s going into a fight so I’m already there if someone gets hurt.”
While the thoughts of future plans primarily occupy Campbell’s mind, he is still able to take a step back and appreciate what he has accomplished so far. For many, graduating from high school is a big deal, and Campbell is no different. As an avid reader, snowboarder, marksman, and fitness enthusiast, Campbell says he’s glad to be able to go into a profession where he can continue to do most of these activities.
When it comes to talking about what he’s most proud of, Campbell says that, hands down, he’s glad he made the most of his high school education.
“I think what I’m proudest of is using high school as an opportunity to train and learn all these different skills. I went through woodshop and metal shop, and I’ve taken a PE class for just about every semester; I’m taking two this semester. So I’m really proud that I’ve been budgeting my time to get the most out of this that I possible could,” says Campbell.
Campbell’s English teacher, Robert More, describes Campbell “an exemplary citizen.”
“He’s the kind of student that remains calm under pressure, displays empathy in both speech and his writing, he’s able to see and consider different viewpoints, he knows how to reach an audience, and he has a great gentle persuasion and calm demeanor about him,” More notes, going on to say, “I think he’s a natural born leader.”
For Campbell, there’s a lot to look forward to with graduation just around the bend. In the coming months, he says that he looks forward to “being my own man.” But the anticipation he feels for finally completing his high school education pales in comparison to the excitement he has for serving his country as a combat medic.
“About joining the Army, I feel like what I’m looking forward most to is the brotherhood of it,” Campbell says. “What everyone’s telling me is that I’m going to get on that bus and everyone there, they’re going to be like family. I’m going to hate some of them, I’m going to love some of them. We’re probably going to spit out our life stories at each other just because we don’t have anything else to talk about. And when we’re in the field, and if something does happen, we’re going to be there looking out for each other, and that’s what I’m looking forward to most about the military, I think.”