It’s been over 20 years since Andrea Gilley Locher served her country in the U.S. Army Reserve. But she still credits her military service for where she is today – and that’s “Twice the Citizen,” the Army Reserve motto, as an imaging system administrator at HCA’s TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center.
In 1987, Locher joined the Reserve before graduating high school. “I knew four years of college wasn’t for me,” she said. “I wanted to figure out what I was going to do, train for it and get out into the workforce.”
Whether it was fate or sheer coincidence, Locher chose x-ray technician as her military occupational specialty and went on to attend basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama, radiology specialist (91P) training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, and on-the-job training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
“While I was going through my military training, I interviewed for a slot at a civilian hospital-based program,” the eight-year military veteran recalled. “I was fortunate the first place I interviewed and was hired was Medical Center of Plano (MCP), an HCA facility, and my first HCA home.”
HCA even then was a military-friendly employer, working around Locher’s reservist duties and supporting her through what would happen next. The Nixa, Mo., native had been at Medical Center of Plano for just four months when her reserve unit, the 94th General Hospital, was placed on active duty for the first Gulf War – Operation Desert Storm.
“I was 21 years old at the time and scared,” she said frankly. “I was stationed in Nurnberg, Germany, performing diagnostic x-rays at the U.S. military hospital when I met one patient I would never forget. It took three or four of us to x-ray him because he was in such bad shape; but despite his pain, he had the best attitude.”
Little did she know, their paths would cross years later back in the states.
Locher returned from deployment to a full-time secured position at HCA’s North Texas hospital (MCP) and continued her U.S. Army Reserve obligations, where she would, in less than ideal circumstances, reunite with her Germany patient.
“My reserve unit was doing its annual training at Fort Sam Houston, and because I was an x-ray tech they placed me in the imaging department at Brooke Army Medical Center,” Locher recalled. “We were about to x-ray this patient’s leg when we popped up the images from his medical records. I immediately recognized the leg and my initials on the film,” she exclaimed.
He remembered her, too. They exchanged pleasantries and the full-circle moment had ended as soon as it began. Life is funny in that way. As much as plan, you never know where it (life) will take you.
Joining the U.S. Army Reserve led Locher on a career path that would span three HCA entities – Medical Center of Plano, corporate headquarters and now TriStar StoneCrest – and multiple career opportunities at one of the leading healthcare systems in the nation.
“I had no idea when I got hired at Medical Center of Plano at 21 years old it was going to lead me on this 25-year journey working for HCA,” she said. “There are so many avenues you can go within our company that if I didn’t want to be doing this next year, I could venture into another kind of role because I’ve touched so many different types of systems.”
“My military service started all of this,” she added. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it had not been for the U.S. Army Reserve.”
From all of us at HCA, thank you for your service and your commitment to being “Twice the Citizen.”
Andrea Gilley pictured third from left
A 2016 Military Friendly Employer®, HCA also was the 2015 recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring our Heroes Lee Anderson Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Award. The organization hired over 2,000 military veterans in 2015. Visit here for more information on careers at HCA.