FORT INDIANTOWN GA, Pa. -- Most who choose to serve in the Military utilize their skills and knowledge from that time in service to transfer to a civilian career. HM1 Brandon D. Flake decided to make that transition to yet another form of government service.
A Romulus, Michigan native and Reserve Hospital Corpsman with Engineer Support Company, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, is participating as the head hospital corpsman during the annual exercise Red Dagger 18, in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, May 12-24, 2018. When he isn't conducting his Marine Corps duties, Flake works as a corrections officer with the Michigan Department of Corrections at Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Romulus, Mich.
“Basically what we do at the correctional facility is housing level one through level four inmates,” said Flake. “A level four is someone who can not be around the general population of the inmates and has a heavy sentence from something equivalent to the level of murder. These level four’s have to be in one cell all the time with maybe 3 hours of yard time a day.”
“Level ones are inmates who have anywhere from one month to three years left before they get to go home,” said Flake. “They have to be re-acclimated back into the community.”
Reserve Marines and Hospital Corpsman take at least two weeks out of the year away from their civilian careers to conduct their annual training requirements. This year, the Marines and Corpsman with 6th ESB, are conducting integrated bilateral training with the British Army Reserve commando’s with 131 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers. They are taking advantage of National Guard Base, Fort Indiantown Gap’s structured military operations on urbanized terrain, or MOUT, rifle and pistol ranges and airlift capabilities.
“As a hospital corpsman, I have always been integrated with the Marine Corps to some effect,” said Flake. “I’ve actually never served with other Navy personnel, and I have never been on ship. I have always been a ground pounder with the Marines.”
“I know more about M16’s than I know about any ship or regular naval duties,” Flake said. “I’ve traveled around the world twice. Being from Michigan, I have had the opportunity to travel across the U.S. to places such as California and North Carolina, as well as, overseas to Japan and South Korea.”
“I’m looking forward to working with the British Army Reserve commando’s during this training exercise with the Marines,” Flake said.
Flakes family has been his biggest support system. His wife and two children inspire him and look up to him as a positive figure and role model.
“My wife, Cary-Ann, is working towards her masters degree,” said Rush. “My daughter, Teshire, is in college to pursue her degree as well. My son, Christian, is about to graduate fourth grade.”
Flake has served in the Navy as a hospital corpsman for 18 years. He joined on August 13th, 2000. His first five years, Flake was active duty and he transition out of the Navy after his tour to Iraq.
“I thought the grass would be greener on the other side,” said Flake. “But the civilian side brings a lot of competition and without having a degree or college behind my belt, I was not ready to give up the experiences and opportunities I could still gain through the Navy, so I reenlisted as a Reservist.”
“Putting this uniform back on, it seemed like so many more doors were opened,” said Flake. “I love being a part of this military community, and employers in the civilian side were more apprehensive to have someone with military values and discipline to work for them.”
Loving the experiences he had on active duty, Flake transitioned in to the Reserves to still be able to have the same experiences and continue serving while he started his career as a civilian in Michigan State Department of Corrections.
“Transitioning from the Reserves as a hospital corpsman, to a corrections officer wasn’t difficult with the Marine and Corpsman training I have had,” said Flake. “Your learning to deal with the hearts and minds of the enemy, but also the hearts and minds of the people you work with. In the military, your dealing with people who are coming from each and every corner of the United States, so you may not always agree with everyone at all times.”
“On the civilian side, you will have to deal with people from all over the state and you have to know to talk to people, and how to communicate,” said Flake. “Inter-communicability is your best friend. It’s important in both the military and civilian sector to have communication personal ability.”
Although Flake has many opportunities to travel the world and learn new skill still through the Navy as a Corpsman, he is satisfied as to what the Navy gave back to him over the years.
“My opportunity to be in the Navy has been a great experience,” said Flake. “I don’t think there has been any other way for me to see what I have seen, do what I have done and learn what I have learned without wearing this uniform.”