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Local Army Reserve unit serving in Mississippi

October 25th, 2013 9:49 am by Debra McCown

Local Army Reserve unit serving in Mississippi

East Tennessee’s 7244th Medical Support Unit is working with another medical support unit, the 7241st from Lexington, Ky., to process soldiers heading overseas or returning from deployed time overseas. Photo provided by Lt. Col. Linda Fisher.

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – They might not be headed overseas, but the men and women of East Tennessee’s 7244th Medical Support Unit have still had to pack their bags and leave their jobs and families behind to serve their country.

The Mount Carmel-based U.S. Army Reserve unit just arrived in Mississippi at Camp Shelby, where they’re working with another medical support unit, the 7241st, from Lexington, Ky., to process soldiers heading overseas or returning from deployed time overseas.

“We have doctors, nurses, lab personnel, X-ray technicians, medics, LPNs, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants – all the people that you need to make up a medical service, we have those personnel,” said Lt. Col. Linda Fisher, commander of the Mount Carmel, Tenn.-based unit. “We have the administrative folks also.”

Fisher, a Kingsport native who has four children, two stepchildren and seven grandchildren, joined the Army Reserve more than 22 years ago. When she went, as a young lieutenant, for her first drill, she said, the unit was freshly home from Kuwait, where they served in support of Operation Desert Storm.

Fisher said she’s spent most of her years in the Army Reserve as a “weekend warrior,” serving one weekend a month and two weeks a year while working full-time at her civilian job.

A nurse by profession, the Dobyns-Bennett High School and ETSU grad has worked in many areas of nursing in her 30-plus-year career including education, public health, home health and hospice. At one point, she taught health sciences at Dobyns-Bennett.

Over the years, she’s had opportunities to train all over the country, she said. From 2008-09, she served in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“When I look back at where I started and where I’ve ended up, it’s been an interesting path and a blessed path where I’ve walked,” she said. “It’s not the one I thought I would walk, but I guess it’s the one that God laid out before me, and that’s what I took, so I’ve been blessed along the way with my civilian job, my personal life, and with my army life.”

Her unit, she said, is made up of people from all over the country and a variety of backgrounds – and they’re a great group of people to work with.

“A very large percentage of the soldiers that are here with our medical support units have also served in combat zones. Some of them have been overseas more than once,” Fisher said.

“We have some soldiers who are veterans of Desert Storm, so we have folks who have been with us for a long time, and we have some folks who have just pretty much finished basic training and just stepped into the arena of the army, so we’ve got all ages, men and women, just like your general population,” she said. “We have folks from all backgrounds and all different parts of the country; that’s what you find in today’s armed forces.”

Fisher said the members of the 7244th are proud to serve. Their families have been extremely supportive, she said – and deserve the support of their communities back home, recognizing that they too are making a sacrifice.

“When a unit is mobilized, whether we go overseas or we leave home to go to a place like Camp Shelby, we leave our families behind, we leave our homes behind, we leave our jobs,” she said. “One thing I would say about our unit is that they have risen to the occasion.”

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