Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Navy optometry tech finds path to service at NH Bremerton

Image of Female soldier wearing a black mask. The eyes have it for optician support... Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cruz Gabriela Gallardo, Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton's Optometry Clinic and Optical Support Unit leading petty officer ensures their top priority of providing direct support to the fleet - including units based at Joint Base Lewis McChord - remains constant during the current pandemic outbreak. (Official Navy photo by Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer).

Recommended Content:


With approximately eight years in Navy Medicine, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cruz Gabriela Gallardo has found her calling as the leading petty officer for the Optometry Clinic and Optical Support Unit at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton in Washington.

Before her Navy career, she was uncertain as to her path after graduating from high school in El Paso, Texas.

“I saw joining the Navy as an opportunity to get away, travel and go to school. Didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life. I am the only female in the family to join the service and now my cousins are following my path. Extremely proud,” said Gallardo, noting that she became interested in a career in Navy Medicine as a way to help those in need.

“I love helping people,” Gallardo continued. “I was always taught to help those in need and to give back any way I could. I always wanted to make a positive impact on people’s lives and in the community I am in. When my recruiter talked to me about the corpsman rating and what they do, I signed up.

Gallardo’s personal story is a tale of overcoming long odds and persevering over the improbable.

“My mom came from Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua in Mexico, with two kids to raise. When we first got to El Paso, I went to third grade. I didn’t speak any English whatsoever, so school was a little hard for me. Eventually I learned and got better at speaking it. My brother and I were always in some kind of trouble, so the faster we learned to speak/understand English, the better. I joined the military because my family couldn’t pay for school and I really wasn’t an easy kid to take care of. I wanted to get away, see new places, and learn something new. I was tired of being in the same place. And here I am. The military has taught me a lot about myself and it made me change the way I viewed things. I think I’m doing pretty well so far,” said Gallardo.

Navy Medicine initially took her to school – Hospital Corpsman Skills Basic course - followed by specialty training at Optometry “C” School to become an optician. After graduating Optometry tech school she received orders to U.S. Naval Hospital Rota, Spain; then reported to Naval Branch Health Clinic Bahrain before being assigned to NMRTC Bremerton.

Opticians like Gallardo perform all phases of fabrication with single vision and multifocal spectacles from prescriptions. Those opticians like her holding senior leadership roles also perform administrative and managerial duties in optometry and ophthalmology clinics.

As with everyone else at her command, the main focus for much of 2020 has been supporting the effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“In optometry, we are wearing masks and thoroughly sanitizing everything even more after every patient. We have patients screened by the drive-through screening process before entering the building. Staff follows all hygiene protocols that are set in place. Just knowing we are part of the solution and we are doing our part to help with this pandemic is gratifying,” noted Gallardo.

“Our Optometry Clinic has a lab attached to it. We fabricate about 300 to 400 glasses a day and we support 47 tenant commands across all branches of the armed forces. We are the only fabrication lab in the Pacific Northwest and a lot of people need glasses. It is always awesome that we can do them here in a one or two day turn around. Might not seem like a big deal but it definitely is,” Gallardo exclaimed.

Gallardo attests that the best part of her career in Navy Medicine is being able to lead junior corpsmen.

“Helping them develop into great corpsmen and leaders. Being able to give them the tools they need to succeed and move on,” stated Gallardo, adding that being part of Navy Medicine means being a team. “We help each other succeed and get better at what we do. We are part of an elite group of selfless individuals who are willing to risk our own well-being for our patients and peers.”

The Navy surgeon general has prioritized operational readiness and with the core mission of producing force medical readiness and medical force readiness, Gallardo attests her duty contributes towards the readiness requirement, even during the pandemic outbreak.

“Our duty is to help the fleet and make them ready to deploy. With the lab being here, patients receive glasses, and gas masks in a timely manner,” said Gallardo.

Gallardo summed up her Navy Medicine experience with, “Navy Medicine has taught me more than just medicine. It has taught me to be willing to change and adapt to anything that has been set in place.”

You also may be interested in...

Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy Expands Access to MHS Care

Infographic featuring Lt Col Legault

MHS has Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy: A fast, efficient process that enables providers to file one application and get permission to virtually treat patients anywhere in the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Telehealth Program

DHA- IPM 20-004: Department of Defense (DOD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation


Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s procedures to implement instructions, assign responsibilities, and prescribe procedures for the DHA’s implementation of the DOD’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program.

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

Helping Your Child to Cope with Grief and Losses Related to COVID-19

Shirley Lanham Elementary School students perform Taiko drumming during a Month of the Military Child celebration aboard the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ange-Olivier Clement, Naval Air Facility Atsugi)

Many military children have lost loved ones to COVID-19. How parents can help with the grief.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

How to Help Military Children Reconnect After Two Years of the Pandemic

Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo, Space Launch Delta 30 public affairs specialist, and her son pose for a photo at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, March 25, 2022. During the month of April, we celebrate Month of the Military Child to highlight the sacrifices military children make on the home front while their parents serve the United States. (Photo: Airman Kadielle Shaw, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs)

How parents can help children stressed by more than two years of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Remained High During Omicron Surge

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)

Two new studies of active-duty service members show COVID-19 booster vaccines are effective, but uptake rates in the military community lagged behind the civilian population.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Children's Health

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

How COVID-19 Made the Military Medical Community Stronger

Image of a service member being treated

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the military medical community stronger and will help when confronting the next crisis, whether that’s another pandemic, a new conflict or natural disaster

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Responses Underscore Importance of Patient Safety

Every day, patient safety is one of the top priorities for the Defense Health Agency. Patient safety means providing ready, reliable care to service members, veterans, and dependents no matter the circumstances. (Photo: Defense Health Agency)

Patient safety is a topmost concern of MHS, and Patient Safety Awareness Week 2022 focuses on Ready, Reliable Care.

Recommended Content:

Patient Safety | Patient Safety Awareness Week | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Patient Safety Awareness Week

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 continues to spread, now as the Omicron variant. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect you and your family from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized, or dying. You should also make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines. Testing is another important step you can take to protect yourself and others.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Defense Department Announces Distribution of COVID-19 Tests for Military Beneficiaries

A Soldier assigned to the Connecticut National Guard helps load a shipment of at-home COVID-19 testing kits into a truck at a regional distribution point in North Haven, Connecticut, Jan. 3, 2022. These kits were picked up by representatives from local towns and municipalities to be handed out to their communities.

The Department of Defense will offer at-home COVID-19 tests for military beneficiaries at military hospitals or clinics, on a supply available basis, in the coming weeks.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 26
Refine your search
Last Updated: November 03, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.