On this upcoming Veteran’s Day, we celebrate servicemembers who fought on the battlefield and all those who supported them like Christian Quintero.
The 25-year-old Navy Reservist and University of South Florida student talked with me about his five years on active-duty as a Navy corpsman.
He was only 19 when he began his work assisting on surgeries of the most severely injured like amputees at Bethesda Naval Medical Center – now known as the Walter Reed National Medical Center.
“When I got into the operating room and the first time I was in one of those type of cases, I remember the initial shock, just for a second, I was like ‘Wow,’” Quintero said. “Then after that, my training kicked into gear and I knew what to do.”
He was supposed to be just an observer on that first case in a tiny operating room. But the medical team needed help prepping the young patient who had lost both his legs.
So, Quintero stepped up – his medical training and compassion for fellow servicemembers took over.
“Without getting into specifics, you do see things that most people my age or most people of any age will never see in their life,” Quintero said. “
He carries with him the faces and circumstances of the men and women he cared for when they returned from Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s an unbreakable bond that is difficult for Quintero to talk about.
“There’s a common bond there’s a friendship that only that person and I can understand or veterans for that matter can understand,” Quintero said.
He met his wife, Lara, at Bethesda. She worked in the operating rooms too. They have a 3-year-old son, Noah.
Quintero transitioned to the Naval Reserves last year and enrolled full-time at USF. He was going to study nursing, but changed his major to mass communications.
“I woke up one day and I said, you know, ‘I don’t see myself being a nurse for the next 30 years. And that’s not a knock on the profession because it’s a great profession an honorable profession,” Quintero said. “I decided to pursue my passion which is mass communication.”
His goal: to become communications expert that can help veterans tell their stories and “get the recognition they deserve.”
Quintero currently holds down a part-time job with Vistra Communications, serves in the Reserves, goes to school full-time and is full-time family man. He plans to spend Veterans Day with his family.