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January 24, 2014 • 06:07:01 p.m.

Wonder Lake native named Sailor of the Year for Navy Medicine

By JAMI KUNZER - jkunzer@shawmedia.com

(Photo provided)

A Wonder Lake native who joined the U.S. Navy to carry on her family’s tradition and see the world has done that and then some.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Monica Reeves was named the 2013 Sailor of the Year for Navy Medicine, selected by a panel of Navy Medicine leaders.

Reeves, who serves at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, earned the honor after advancing through various levels of competition.

“It’s a big deal,” Master Chief Corpsman Michael Sam said. “Her record speaks for itself. She represents everything we expect of a sailor. Not only that, she does a lot in her personal life, as well. ... She’s able to balance the mission and her personal life really well.”

A mother of two, 20-month-old Isabella and 10-year-old Kaleb, and wife to Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Charles Reeves, Reeves said she was amazed and proud of the honor.

“It’s kind of hard to put into words,” she said. “It is an honor that I thought I would never receive just because it is so hard to obtain this. There’s only one person a year that gets this.

“It makes me feel good to be able to bring this back to the hospital and to all the junior personnel that work underneath me because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. I was completely shocked.”

Now 34, Reeves joined the U.S. Navy directly after high school, following in the footsteps of both of her grandfathers and a couple of her uncles. She was the first female of her family, as well as the first in her generation, to join.

She’s served for 16 years, reenlisting several times and planning to eventually retire from the U.S. Navy.

“I love the military. I love the structure, the rules, the friendships. It’s not really friendship in the military. You develop bonds with people that are just as strong as family members,” she said.

As a hospital corpsman, Reeves basically serves as an enlisted version of a physician’s assistant as well as other duties. She’s also a senior at George Washington University, where she’s working toward a bachelor’s degree in clinical health science. She intends to earn a master’s degree and become a physician’s assistant after retirement from the military.

She was selected for the honor not only because of her job performance, but also her leadership abilities, Sam said. She’s directly impacted the readiness of more than 10,000 sailors and marines, he said, and helps to keep the fleet combat ready.

“She’s ensured we are at the top of our game,” Sam said. “She was an easy selection.”

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