More Than Just Existence
by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary S. Eshleman
July 19, 2019
In the Midwest, there’s a town called Hindsboro, Illinois. Nestled among farmland, it’s home to a little over 300 people. In this town, a truck-driving father named Cliff Strader and a local schoolteacher, Michelle Strader, raised three children. Their oldest daughter, Caitlyn Strader, held the most responsibility of the three siblings where she often was a helping hand to her mother while her father was out on the road for work.
Caitlyn says her motivation in life comes from her parents, and that she was raised to value hard work and to always have a sense of pride and confidence in who she is. “Both my parents were constantly pushing me, saying ‘you need to be better, you have to contribute to society,’” said Caitlyn. “My mom always told me, ‘look, your life is already going to be hard because you’re a female, so you constantly have to prove your worth people’s time and worth everything we put into you,’ so I’ve always had that competitive nature.”
As she approached her graduation from high school in 2010 as the valedictorian, she went, on her own, into a Marine Corps recruiting office. Approaching the first person in uniform she saw, she said, “I want to be a Marine.” When he asked her what she wanted to do, she stated with confidence, “I want to eventually become a doctor.”
“Alright, well turn around,” said the Marine recruiter, “and go to the Navy office and tell them you want to be a Corpsman.”
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Caitlyn Strader, public affairs officer for Navy Recruiting District (NRD) New England in Boston, MA enjoying the view of the city on April 11, 2019. Her next Navy career step took her to officer candidate school (OCS) to become a surface warfare officer (SWO) ... starting July 7, 2019. (U.S. Navy photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary S. Eshleman)
She followed that advice, and now, almost ten years later, she’s earned the rank and title of Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Caitlyn Strader.
She spent her first active enlistment in Great Lakes, Illinois, at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health care center, assisting in general surgery on small procedures and learning her job as a hospital corpsman.
Eventually becoming an officer has been her goal from the beginning, so she went into the Navy reserves after her first active duty contract to start going to college. She initially started studying pre-medicine, but she says she got bored with the prerequisites because she had already been working in the field in the Navy, and she wanted a new challenge. Three years later, she graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.
After college, she got mobilized in the Navy Reserves and went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There, she worked as a coordinator for “off-island consults.” The hospital in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is small with limited facilities, so when someone would need medical attention beyond their capabilities, she would coordinate with a hospital back in the United States to get the patient what they needed.
She began to get involved with the public affairs community on this assignment. She wanted to start to get job experience in that field, so she volunteered at the base radio station and with the Army’s public affairs officer (PAO) there.
When she came off this active tour and went back to the reserves, she decided to move to Boston. “I just kind of moved to Boston on a whim,” said Caitlyn, “and I worked in the civilian sector for about six-months before I got my canvasser recruiter (CANREC) orders and came back on active duty as a medical officer recruiter.”
After a year, she moved into the public affairs officer position for Navy Recruiting District (NRD) New England.
While in Boston working at this position she also began applying for officer candidate school (OCS) ... being selected to become a surface warfare officer (SWO) starting on July 7, 2019, exactly nine-years from the day she first went through the gates of Recruit Training Command to start boot camp.
“I love the fact that it’ll be the exact same date,“ said Caitlyn. “It’s like a poetic symmetry to my career.”
She say’s she’s excited to get out and see the world as a SWO, and inline with her constant desire to be rising and improving, she plans to eventually finish a master’s degree and possibly transfer into the Navy’s PAO community.
“If you’re not challenging yourself than what are you really doing?” Caitlyn said, “You’d just be existing, so I’m going to continue to constantly accelerate and raise myself to the next level and be an active member of our society.”
Caitlyn has been more than active since she arrived in recruiting. In fact, she took on and successfully coordinated multiple high visibility events surrounding the 2019 Boston Marathon to include recruiter school visits, Navy band performances, a special visit by the Navy’s virtual reality experience truck, the “Burke,” and a flag raising ceremony with a proclamation from the Mayor of Boston to show his gratitude for the Navy and its relationship with the City of Boston.
Caitlyn says she’s learned a lot from her time as a recruiter and it’s given her unique opportunities to experience public affairs, help people start their careers and ultimately give back to her country.
Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, 18 Navy Recruiting Districts and eight Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,300 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.
Commander, Navy Recruiting Command | U.S. Navy | U.S. Navy Gifts | U.S. Department of Defense