A Navy Reserve dentist temporarily assigned to USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) is making a difference for Blue Ridge and U.S. 7th Fleet Sailors aboard the forward deployed Flagship.
Cmdr. Jordan Buzzell previously served on active duty from 2008 to 2014 before transitioning to the Selected Reserve in August 2014. Buzzell, a native of San Diego, says becoming a reservist didn’t end the benefits of serving in the Navy, but added to the endless possibilities he has received.
Buzzell says he has done and seen more in the Navy while in the Reserves than serving on active duty. Buzzell only saw military dependent children as a pediatric dentist so he was limited with operational experiences
Buzzell believes one of the wonderful blessings the reserves has given to him was being assigned to assist USS Blue Ridge as a temporary dentist in a time of need. Buzzell said he received an email and a phone call two weeks before leaving for Japan to fill a short, but critical need for a dentist.
“Although I didn't receive very much notice, my wife and I decided that this was a wonderful opportunity to help the Navy and support the Navy's operational needs,” said Buzzell. “It was a wonderful experience and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to experience life aboard a U.S. Navy ship, especially while under way.”
This isn’t Buzzell’s first time supporting Blue Ridge. He served 21-days temporary additional duty (TAD), including 14 days underway, serving as acting department head for dental services. That experienced allowed him to see more than 100 personnel and increase the dental readiness of the command to more than 98 percent.
Buzzell believes assisting commands in achieving mission-readiness is not the only benefit of the reserves. He attributes reserve opportunities for Sailors as an avenue to expand their social network all over the fleet as well, enriching their lives with people they would have never had the chance to meet.
“I have developed an incredible network of friends, mentors, and professionals who are instrumental in who I have become as a healthcare professional,” said Buzzell. “I absolutely love the fact that I serve in the Selected Reserve with doctors, dentists, nurses, healthcare administrators, and so many other talented people. I have been very blessed to have been surrounded by talented and caring leaders looking after me from the day I joined the Selected Reserve.”
The reserves allowed Buzzell to gain flexibility and freedom to develop his personal life as well as his career and aspirations. Buzzell said he wanted to continue to progress his military career, but also have the opportunity to start his own private practice as a pediatric dentist.
“I am fortunate that I have wonderful business partners and staff in my private practice who are supportive of me fulfilling this critical need,” said Buzzell.
Buzzell recommends that Sailors try out the Selected Reserve for two years. His initial plan was to only serve two years in the reserves and now he says he can easily see himself fulfilling 20 combined years of service.
In addition to building a network, reserve time also has added tangible benefits. Buzzell says Sailors who serve in the Selected Reserve have access to Tricare Reserve Select, which can ease some anxiety of transitioning to the civilian work force knowing that not all jobs provide health care.
“Having searched for other health care plans on the open market, I can tell you that access to Tricare is an amazing benefit,” said Buzzell. “You may find yourself working part time or in scenarios where your job doesn't include healthcare. If that is the case, Tricare is reason enough to consider the Selected Reserve.”
Buzzell encourages Sailors to never lose sight that they are part of an elite team fighting to preserve our democracy, despite Sailors feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. Buzzell also believes Sailors come from all different walks of life but we are united in one common goal and one common cause.
“I am incredibly proud to serve as a Reservist!” said Buzzell. “I used to say that I'm ‘just’ a Reservist. I now realize that my skills can be used to augment our active component and also fulfill critical roles. I am not ‘just’ a reservist, I'm a proud reservist!” Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as 7th Fleet command ship, is responsible for patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.