June 1, 2001

Health Care Coverage? No Problem for Navy, Says San Diego Sailor

Tonight, more than one American will lose sleep over it. Next month, a Fortune 500 company will lure a top professional from a competitor, not with a higher salary, but instead with this benefit. And a future president and Congress, spurred by Americans unable to afford insurance, may again try to make health care available to everyone.

Ricardo R. Mijares

The Navy, long aware of the "too good to pass up" quality of free health care, relies on its medical corps to keep the 369,952 men and women on active duty healthy. One individual helping out with medical services is Ricardo R. Mijares, the 23-year-old son of Juanita Mijares of San Diego.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Mijares works at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, which is also known as Balboa Hospital. Mijares' services at work fulfill an important niche in the health of servicemembers and their families.

"I provide routine and emergency medical treatment to military members and their families," Mijares said.

Located near downtown San Diego and its bay, the medical center serves as a hub for patients seeking advice and treatment. The medical center benefits from San Diego's biotechnical industry, and it is the largest military hospital in the world, staffed by 4,500 medical professionals.

At the medical center, Mijares works with some of the best-trained military and civilian professionals in the country. Mijares values this opportunity and the wealth of experience he has gained.

"People come to our hospital for help, and it makes me feel important when I can give it to them," Mijares said.

Additionally, being in the navy brings with it many opportunities, and Mijares has been able to pursue personal and professional goals.

The five-year Navy veteran said, "I've acquired my national registry as an emergency medical technician and have also participated in various operational exercises involving helicopter rides, weapon firings, explosives training, etc."

On a typical day, Mijares helps to protect the health of more than 4,000 patients who visit Balboa and its clinics. Since medical care is free to all military active duty members, their spouses and children, and retirees, Balboa and its clinics have 271,000 people in the San Diego area who are eligible for treatment.

With trained and motivated professionals like Mijares, the Navy will continue to provide free, quality health care to its members through the next century.

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