Women in Uni­form

SSG Kay Lynn Brunt

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Story by Lindsey Wells, pho­tog­ra­phy by Richard Ras­mussen

Kay Lynn Brunt is a five-time mem­ber of the World Taek­wondo As­so­ci­a­tion (WTA) USA Na­tional Team, a reg­is­tered nurse at CHI St. Vin­cent in the nurs­ery, and a health care spe­cial­ist, or medic, and staff sergeant in the Army Na­tional Guard. She’s set to travel to Kuwait this month for her first overseas mil­i­tary de­ploy­ment.

Brunt was at­tend­ing Na­tional Park Col­lege when she be­gan se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing a ca­reer in the mil­i­tary. She drove past a re­cruit­ing of­fice every day on her way to school and fi­nally made the de­ci­sion to stop and speak to some­one about her op­tions.

“It was some­thing I had thought about do­ing since I was in high school but I didn’t think I could do the run­ning and all that,” she said. “I just stopped in and asked be­cause I didn’t know much about it, and it just kind of hap­pened from there.”

Fort Leonard Wood in Mis­souri is where she com­pleted her ba­sic train­ing — nine weeks of train­ing and an ex­tra week of re­cep­tion, pa­per­work and ad­min­is­tra­tive tasks be­fore the sol­diers were sent out to their in­di­vid­ual com­pa­nies. Brunt went from Fort Leonard Wood straight to Fort Sam Hous­ton in San An­to­nio, Texas, to be­gin medic train­ing. She had al­ready grad­u­ated nurs­ing school when she joined the Army.

“I feel hon­ored and proud to serve my coun­try. Less than 1 per­cent of Amer­i­cans serve in the mil­i­tary. Some just don’t want to, and that’s fine; it’s not for ev­ery­one. There are many that would do any­thing to join but just don’t qual­ify for one rea­son or an­other. When I think about those peo­ple I al­most feel priv­i­leged to be able to serve and will do it as long as I can,” said Brunt.

Though she only keeps in touch now with one per­son she met in ba­sic train­ing, when asked what she likes about be­ing in the mil­i­tary, Brunt said, “I have met some great peo­ple. The Army usu­ally ends up tak­ing you sep­a­rate ways at one point or an­other but you al­ways carry the mem­o­ries and the lessons learned. The peo­ple in my cur­rent unit have truly be­come like fam­ily, es­pe­cially as we have been get­ting ready to de­ploy. I know I have made some life­long friend­ships.”

Brunt said her ex­pe­ri­ence in ba­sic train­ing was harder on her men­tally than phys­i­cally — even the gas cham­ber “wasn’t as bad as they make it out to be,” she added.

“It is hard phys­i­cally but they kind of build you up. They start off small and build you up phys­i­cally, but the men­tal part of it is tough, just be­ing away from your fam­ily and ev­ery­thing,” she said. “I didn’t have kids at that time, but just leav­ing home, and there’s not much com­mu­ni­ca­tion. But, a few weeks into it, they kind of be­come your fam­ily, some­what, and you just get used to what you’re do­ing and it’s OK af­ter the first few weeks.”

Brunt’s duty sta­tion is in North Lit­tle Rock at Robin­son Ma­neu­ver Train­ing Cen­ter, or Camp Robin­son, where she goes for train­ing one week­end per month.

For­merly a cadre, or in­struc­tor, Brunt once worked at a unit in Hot Springs teach­ing newly joined men and women about what to ex­pect in ba­sic train­ing, pre­par­ing them phys­i­cally, men­tally and ad­min­is­tra­tively for the road ahead.

“Most of them are 17-18 years old, but we do have peo­ple that are older. It’s kids that have joined and don’t leave for ba­sic for any­where from two to eight to nine months, so every month we would have drill for them. I did that for a long time. They’ve al­ready joined, they know they’re go­ing to ba­sic train­ing and they’ve got a date that they leave, they just have some time in be­tween,” she said.

As a sec­tion leader for the med­i­cal sec­tion of her com­pany, Brunt will have nine medics work­ing un­der her dur­ing her de­ploy­ment in Kuwait.

“We will es­sen­tially run a med­i­cal clinic over there for our sol­diers,” she said. “We fall un­der the 77th com­bat avi­a­tion bri­gade; we fall un­der them, and I think nine other states have com­pa­nies that fall un­der them, so we’ll all meet up down at Fort Hood and we’ll all be over there to­gether. We’ll run the clinic for those guys that just don’t feel good, sprained an­kles, reg­u­lar stuff you’d go to the doc­tor’s of­fice for.”

Brunt said that medics are gen­er­ally the first line of med­i­cal treat­ment for in­jured sol­diers, but on the civil­ian side their scope of prac­tice is lim­ited. Af­ter ba­sic train­ing she went through an NREMT pro­gram, which is an EMT pro­gram, and a com­bat medicine pro­gram with an em­pha­sis on bat­tle­field trauma.

“We hold an EMT cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and can op­er­ate in that ca­pac­ity, but on the mil­i­tary side we are ex­pected to be able to do any­thing from check a tem­per­a­ture to per­form a sur­gi­cal cricothy­ro­tomy, which is mak­ing a hole in some­body’s throat to put a breath­ing tube down,” she said.

Brunt at­tended high school at Sec­ond Bap­tist Church and grad­u­ated from Lake Hamil­ton High School in 2003. She has been tak­ing Taek­wondo for 23 years, but said that since she had kids, who are ages 6 and 3, she hasn’t had a lot of time for train­ing.

“My son’s been do­ing Taek­wondo for a lit­tle over a year and my daugh­ter, we’re about to get her into gym­nas­tics or dance; she’s 3 so she’s just get­ting old enough to do things like that.”

Madi­son Gard­ner, Brunt’s friend and fel­low woman in uni­form, said that Brunt grow­ing up was “ath­letic, artis­tic, mu­si­cal, smart — you name it, she could do it. I be­lieve those traits are even more true now that she is an adult. There lit­er­ally isn’t any­thing she can’t do and she makes ev­ery­thing look so easy,” adding that Brunt is free-spir­ited and kind­hearted. Gard­ner served in the U.S. Navy from 2005-09. “Join­ing the mil­i­tary, for me, was sort of a last minute de­ci­sion. I had many friends go­ing off to great schools and I wasn’t per­son­ally ready to sign up for loans when I hon­estly had no clue what I wanted to do with my life,” said Gard­ner.

She went to ba­sic train­ing in Great Lakes, Ill. from De­cem­ber-Fe­bru­ary.

“For a girl from Arkansas, that was a rude awak­en­ing,” she said.

When asked what her fa­vorite part of ba­sic train­ing was, Gard­ner said, “The friend­ships that were made. I had no idea at the time but some of those women would be some of my clos­est friends, no mat­ter the miles.

“These are the peo­ple I lived with, ate with, hung out with and worked with. Noth­ing can ever com­pare to the bond mil­i­tary mem­bers hold.”

She said her least-fa­vorite part was “hav­ing to wake up in the mid­dle of the night to iron every ar­ti­cle of cloth­ing all the way down to your un­der­wear. Mak­ing my rack 10 times per day got old very quick. Any­one who has been to Navy boot camp knows ex­actly what I’m talk­ing about.”

Gard­ner and Brunt have known each other since child­hood, hav­ing grown up to­gether since they were 4-5 years old.

Brunt and her hus­band, Chad, a cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer, have been mar­ried for seven years. She said this de­ploy­ment will be the long­est she has ever been away from her fam­ily.

“Ev­ery­body’s a lit­tle anx­ious but we’re work­ing it out. These last two months have kind of helped to get us ready be­cause I’m still some­what here, I can still eas­ily be reached on the phone and stuff like that now so it’s kind of gone into an ad­just­ment pe­riod,” she added. “But, they’re do­ing fine, they’re sur­viv­ing.”

“It is hard phys­i­cally but they kind of build you up. They start off small and build you up phys­i­cally, but the men­tal part of it is tough, just be­ing away from your fam­ily and ev­ery­thing.” -Kay Lynn Brunt

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