In the middle of October, a patient’s routine visit to Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) took a potential lost turn.
Upon arriving home, the patient soon discovered his retired military identification card was nowhere to be found. Assuming it had somehow been misplaced during his time at the pharmacy or on the quarterdeck, he contacted NHB inquiring if anyone had found it and turned it in.
On duty at the time replying to the phone call was Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Shelby M. Foster.
She gathered the necessary details and replied that she would check for the missing ID card.
“The individual contacted Security and was upset he lost his ID and provided a few different locations he visited in the hospital earlier that day,” said Foster.
After being relieved from watch, Foster retraced the patient’s steps through the command’s pharmacy and across the quarterdeck to no avail. No ID card.
“I then scanned those locations he specified with no luck,” Foster said.
Not one to simply stop there, Foster immediately took the initiative to expand her search parameters to the multiple, adjacent patient parking areas.
“I figured it was a possibility he may have lost it in the parking lot. I began searching surrounding patient parking and was able to locate it in the Mt. Baker parking lot,” shared Foster.
It was approximately 45 minutes after receiving the phone call that Foster called the patient back to inform him of the good news.
“I contacted this individual and told him we would do everything we could to get him his ID returned back to him. He was pleasantly pleased with my efforts and ended up writing a letter to the commanding officer stating how pleased he was with my outstanding customer service. He went on to state I went ‘above and beyond and confirms the professionalism that I have experienced at the hospital.’ It was an amazing feeling knowing that I made his day. Even though I was just doing my job I still really appreciated his gratitude,” commented Foster.
As a result of her selfless attention to detail and professional resourcefulness, Foster was recognized by Capt. Shannon J. Johnson, NHB/Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton commanding officer.
“The commanding officer generously presented me a ‘character, competence and compassion’ coin for ‘going above and beyond’ to locate the individual’s lost retired military identification card,” said Foster.
For the born and raised Fort Wayne, Indiana native, the recent snippet of such service before self has been a hallmark of her Navy career of nine and a half years which began after graduating from Southside High School in 2011.
“I played a ton of sports and graduated with honors. I was in the delayed entry program for a majority of my senior year of high school prior to shipping off. I barely left the area until I joined the military. Immediately following boot camp I went to (Navy) master-at-arms ‘A’ school at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. I met my husband there and we have been happily married for almost seven years now. We have three beautiful children Bentley, age 7, Aston, age 5, and Royce, age 3. We also have two dogs, Cain, a German shepherd and Cooper, a pomchi,” shared Foster.
Her Navy career has taken her to the Far East, assigned to Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba in the Caribbean, at California’s central valley at Naval Air Station Lemoore, and now in the Pacific Northwest.
“Like most young kids that come into the military, I wanted to join the Navy to travel and get an education,” Foster remarked.
As part of the Navy’s master-at-arms rating, Foster is responsible for such duties as waterborne and land security, aircraft and flight line security, strategic weapons and cargo security, maritime security and platform protection; conducting customs operations, corrections operations, detainee operations, and protective service operations. She performs force protection, physical security and law enforcement; organizes and trains personnel in force protection, physical security, law enforcement, and weapons proficiency; develops plans for physical security and force protection enhancement of Navy commands and personnel; and assists commands in conducting terrorist threat analysis and implementing defensive measures.
She is currently the Security Watch Commander at NHB, where she’s been assigned for the last year and a half.
“I have worn many hats in my naval career. From basic sentry to watch commander to various administrative positions, to field training officer, to my favorite position, which was the anti-terrorism training team coordinator for Guantanamo Bay Naval Base,” Foster said. She also currently holds such collateral duty jobs as Sexual Assault Prevention and Response victim advocate, Basic Life Support program instructor and command decontamination (DECON) team member ready to response to any radiological or nuclear incident. Her leadership on the DECON team have also been noticed by command leadership.
“My role during the DECON training was team lead for one of the two groups. I assigned jobs, formulated a plan for our initial set-up and assisted my team throughout the whole process. At the end of the training the lead instructors presented me with a coin. It was a very fun experience and I had an amazing team. I couldn’t have done it without all of their hard work and dedication,” Foster said.
Like the rest of her command counterparts, Foster has also been routinely involved in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“My role is to ensure patients, visitors and staff are following the COVID-19 safety guidelines. Back in March I was lucky enough to go on mission to [Navy hospital ship] USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) that ported in Los Angeles to relieve the local hospitals in the area. I provided security and assisted with patient transports on and off the ship.”
“We are (all) first responders,” continued Foster. “It is our job to assist others. We have so many different trainings under our belt that we could be placed anywhere and be able to provide a helping hand.”
Foster attests that the best part about her career so far revolves around her shipmates and marriage.
“The friends I have met and family I have gained along the way are the best part about my time in the Navy,” exclaimed Foster. “The job is interesting and my experiences have been fascinating but without my gained family those experiences wouldn’t be as awesome.”