Honor Stories: Jenni Maier served as a corpsman at Bethesda Naval Hospital | Local
CURT SYNNESS For independent recording
Jenni Maier, a Helena native and Navy veteran, served as a hospital corps member in the U.S. Navy for four years, the last three of those at Bethesda Naval Hospital. As a civilian, Maier continued her affiliation with Uncle Sam, volunteering with US Marines Toys for Tots in Helena for the past 19 years and since 2013 working for the VA Healthcare System.
Maier graduated from Capital High in 1992, where she wrote in a choir, and was part of the Jubilettes singing group. She enlisted in the Navy through the Deferred Entry Program (DEP) her freshman year in 1991 and left for boot camp in Orlando, Florida after graduating in September 1992.
She comes from a military background, following in the footsteps of her grandfather and father. Grandfather William Schultz, of Power, Montana, served in the US Army during World War II as a Technician 4 in Papua New Guinea.
His father, George Maier, an electronics technician, served six years of active duty in the United States Navy from 1970 to 1976, in places like Grand Turks and Nantucket, to name a few. He then spent another 19 years in the Naval Reserve, retiring as a Petty Officer First Class (E6) in 1985, followed by a stint in the Air National Guard. She has several cousins who also served in the army and navy.
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After boot camp, Jenni attended the Corpsman School of San Diego (Balboa), Naval School of Health Sciences, from 1992 to 1993. She then spent more than three years stationed at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda , Maryland.
“Built from a sketch by President Franklin Roosevelt, Bethesda Naval Hospital – now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center – is the largest military medical complex in the world,” according to Wikipedia. “Its iconic tower, opened in 1942, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
President Roosevelt laid the foundation stone for the tower on Armistice Day, November 11, 1940, the website https://navy.togetherweserved.com/ States. “The original medical center consisted of the Naval Hospital, designed to hold 1200 beds, and the Naval Medical School, Naval Dental School (now the National Naval Dental Center) and the Institute of naval medical research.”
At the end of World War II, temporary buildings were added to house up to 2,464 wounded American sailors and marines.
In 1960 the hospital underwent a major expansion, “with two 5-storey wings attached to the original building”, adding 258 beds, then eight years later another expansion brought the bed capacity to 1122. 1975, “the construction of a network of new buildings was started”, which resulted in the inauguration of the two main buildings – an outpatient facility and a 500-bed hospital facility – in 1980, which remain the main clinical buildings of the site.
“Walter Reed Army Hospital, then located in Washington D.C., closed in 2005 and was consolidated with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda,” according to marine.togetherweserved.com. “In 2008, President GW Bush dedicated what is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The resulting WRNMMC is made up of Navy, Army, and Air Force personnel.
Maier was also attached to USNS Comfort during this time.
Comfort has been involved in numerous deployments over the years, including Desert Shield/Desert Storm, 1991-92; Operation Noble Eagle, after 9/11; the war in Iraq, 2002-03; Hurricane Katrina in 2005; Operation United Response for the earthquake in Haiti in 2010; Hurricane Maria in 2017; and New York’s COVID-19 response in 2020.
Maier was honorably discharged in 1996, as HN (E3). When asked what she considered the highlight of her military career, she replied, “Helping to take care of my fellow sailors.
After her service ended, Jenni worked in the Montana National Guard Family Programs for three years, followed by six years with the State of Montana at the Department of Unclaimed Property Revenue, then the final nine years at her current employment with Fort Harrison. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In the meantime, the next generation of the family is carrying on the military tradition – Jenni’s son Travis Rogers in the US Army, and stepsons Kolter and Daltyne Wilmot in the Montana National Guard.
Maier joined Toys for Tots in 2003, and since then she’s “done a bit of everything, but mostly I’ve been the volunteer coordinator and I’m currently the floor coordinator,” she said. she tells. Marine Howard Mears, the current coordinator, recalled that when he took over nine years ago, he was “badly in need” of guidance and support.
“And guess who showed up?” Yes, a Navy member named Jen Maier,” Mears, a Vietnam veteran, wrote in a recent email. “The bond between Corpsmen and Marines is exceptionally strong because they save our lives on the battlefield and we protect their lives because we need them to save ours.
“What I discovered is that a female Corpsman is a whole different set than a male Corpsman – just as dedicated, just as strong-willed, just as stubborn and stubborn, but covered in a softer demeanor. “
Mears, Toys for Tots’ 2019 National Coordinator of the Year, said he “had a wacky idea and Jen rejected it” and made me think it was my idea.
“I had no idea what happened to me except that it was still good advice and it still worked,” he concluded. “Our program wouldn’t be as successful as it is without a USN Corpsman named Jen Maier.”
Curt Synness, a Navy veterinarian, can be reached at 406-594-2878 or [email protected] He is also on Twitter @curtsynness_IR