From the coast guard to nursing, one Bellin College student expands his journey to find a lasting career
Interview with John Kaser,
BSN (15-month class of October 2018)
Answering the call to help during a natural disaster and devastation like Hurricane Harvey takes a whole nation. What we don’t always hear about are the people behind the scenes who are a part of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), members of the Incident Command System (ICS) and those that risk their lives to serve our country every day. When it comes to the Gulf Coast, first on the scene during a devastation from a hurricane is your U.S. Coast Guard. John, a current Bellin College student, has served in the Coast Guard for nearly 20 years.
During his service with the Coast Guard, he worked in everything from search and rescue to safety and environmental health. In 2005, he responded to Hurricane Katrina and worked out of Empire, Louisiana conducting fishing vessel salvage to help the local fishing fleet get back up and running.
“What people don’t understand is that hazardous materials get into the municipal water systems once flood waters recede,” said John. “Hazardous materials released from facilities such as oil, other hazardous chemicals, sewage, in addition to the remains of dead animals get into the drinking water contaminating it with chemicals, bacteria, and viruses making it unsanitary and unsafe to drink or even use at all.” During his job as a Safety and Environmental Health Officer, he had to respond to hurricanes that made landfall here in the U.S. as a member of a Damage Assessment Team, assessing damage to Coast Guard units in Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana. He said, “the devastation of these hurricanes is unbelievable and you can never appreciate the destructive power of these storms unless you have actually been there and lived through it.”
During his job as a safety and environmental health officer, he had to respond to hurricanes that made landfall here in the U.S. as a member of a Damage Assessment Team that assessed damage to Coast Guard units in Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana. He said, “the devastation of these hurricanes are unbelievable and you can never appreciate the destructive power of these storms unless you have actually been there and lived through it.”
Now retired, he wanted to find a new career he could physically handle for the rest of his life and allow him to focus on his family. His mother worked as a nurse anesthetist, and after she passed away last August, John wanted to understand what was going on with her health when she was in the hospital. This curiosity created a passion for the healthcare field and his interest in helping to care for others. This summer, he decided to pursue a degree in nursing at Bellin College — a change from his previous degrees in geology, waste management-environmental science and work environment-industrial hygiene.
John resides in Door County on an acreage outside of Sturgeon Bay with his wife and five children who range from 5 to 25 years of age. His oldest, 25-year-old son has just completed his enlistment in the Navy and plans to attend college in Green Bay. His wife is a teacher for the Southern Door School District and all of his younger children attend Southern Door school. John always enjoyed academics, so when he decided to go back to school for nursing, he chose Bellin College. He chose Bellin College because he decided it was the best nursing college in the state.
After graduation next October, he hopes to work in hospice, elder care or with veterans. Treatment for veterans has been challenging in our country and John would like to advocate for the needs of those who have been injured or are dealing with mental health issues due to their experiences in the military.
Hurricane Harvey/Irma Relief:
If you want to help victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, you can donate supplies or make a financial contribution to various organizations, such as the American Red Cross or the United Way. You can give blood to help with hospital shortages or, as a healthcare professional, there are opportunities to volunteer your time to travel to the site and provide care for victims. Various local companies in the Green Bay have been collecting donations to drive down to flood zones. You could also join the JJ Watt Foundation to help raise money for Houston Flood Relief.