JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
As upcoming future U.S. Army commissioned officers, West point cadets are educated and rigorously trained through drills designed to shape them into topnotch leaders.
Cadets like third-year Cadet Sgt. Matthew P. Altamirano is becoming a leader who will someday inspire and motivate the Soldiers he will be in charge of.
His knowledge and experience comes not only from within the boundaries of West Point, as every summer cadets from the U.S. Military Academy spend a few weeks getting some "real Army" experience at Army installations around the world.
This year, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston hosted Altamirano, so he could get some hands-on experience in combat casualty care research - specifically on tourniquets.
Altamirano spent his time at the USAISR under the mentorship of retired Col. (Dr.) John F. Kragh, an orthopedic surgeon/tourniquet researcher and a 1985 West Point graduate. Kragh said that the experience and exposure cadets get during the summer is invaluable in many ways.
"West Point is great at training cadets on Army stuff," he said. "They have to go out and experience firsthand what is available for them once they leave the academy so that they can determine what career path they want to follow."
When Altamirano graduates from West Point, he will have earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. He said the experience he has gained at the USAISR has given him a new perspective on what career path he'd like to follow.
"I've learned a lot about tourniquets and the research process," Altamirano said. "I had no idea how important combat casualty care research is and how it's all conducted for those wounded in combat. I am now considering the medical corps when I go on active duty."
The New Mexico native said he decided to attend West Point to serve his country and follow his dad's footsteps.
"It's exciting to think that when I graduate I will be leading Soldiers," he said. "My family is very proud of me."
Altamirano left the USAISR in late July to commence his junior year at West Point. He said he was grateful for the experience and training he received. After spending about three weeks learning about tourniquets and how they work, he feels confident he will know how to apply one if ever needed in the future.
"I had very little exposure to tourniquets before coming here," Altamirano said. "It's good to know how to apply them and how they work. It has been an awesome experience."