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Veteran Andrew Um

Military veterans contribute to the daily operations of Cedars-Sinai in a wide variety of departments, roles and responsibilities.

In observance of Veterans Day—Wednesday, Nov. 11—we spoke with several team members whose paths to Cedars-Sinai began with their decision to join the armed forces.

Images courtesy of Andrew Um.

Andrew Um, BSN, RN

5SCCT SICU CN3

When I enlisted in the Navy at 19 years old, I had little idea of what journeys my time in service would take me on. It would set me down a path that I still walk on to this day.

I knew I wanted to help people when I signed up to be a hospital corpsman in the Navy. Admittedly, I was naïve—I expected to be cozy in a naval hospital in some beautiful foreign climate. However, the year was 2006, and the war in Iraq and General Petraeus' troop surge was in full swing. Most of us young male corpsmen would be assigned to where we were needed the most. They started rapidly deploying Marine combat units.

I was trained on how to transition from being hospital-based to an infantry corpsman in the field. I was then called on and ordered to deploy with 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment out of Camp Pendleton, California. Three weeks out of training and I immediately began preparing to deploy to that harsh desert theater of war. I learned quickly that being the new Navy guy in a platoon full of hardened infantry Marines meant that I had to earn my stripes the hard way—in combat—which I did over the course of our deployment to Fallujah and then outside Ramadi in 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. While those wounded Americans I treated will always be with me, some of the most memorable patients were not U.S. service members, but the Iraqi civilians and enemy combatants whom I was charged with rendering aid to. I saw then how human we all are.

After leaving the Navy, I decided to become a nurse, and together with my further training I've been fortunate enough to become part of the team of the Surgical/Trauma ICU on 5SCCT, who care for our very sickest and gravely injured patients.

I learned many lessons during my time in the service: teamwork, grit, adaptability. Above all I learned about compassion—for my those who were my Marine brothers, and to those who we called the enemy.