ISS1 2018

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Rese R vist Magazine s hip M ates in Focus Onto the next challenge Meet one of the Coast Guard Reserve's newest recruits: Dr. Angel Valles-Bravo. Story by Anastasia M. Devlin It's not unusual to hear a Coast Guardsman say, "I learned a lot about emergencies, working with almost nothing for resources," or "You have to work with what you have, and try to help everybody." Although, they're not usually talking about treating gunshot victims. Dr. Angel Valles-Bravo, 29, was born and raised in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. He said he remembered the medical field calling to him at a young age. "I've always like being able to help people in need," said Valles-Bravo. "My grandpa told me I should have a vocation [where I] help others. It was because of him that I thought about it; I chose it, and I've never regretted it." After six years of medical school, Valles-Bravo traveled from Cuba to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, to serve in a medical program called Barrio Adentro, which was part of an agreement between the two governments. There, he worked at an emergency clinic helping the poorer members of the community, providing cradle-to-grave treatment for those who couldn't afford access to medical care. There, the young physician was baptized by fire. "There was so much violence in Venezuela," he said. "I was treating gun shots, knife wounds, car accidents. I learned a lot about emergency medicine." Though this wasn't his first time experiencing limited resources, it certainly presented challenges. "Sometimes, I'd think, 'What am I going to do? I need this… I don't have this,'" said Valles-Bravo, referring to equipment or tests he needed for his patients. "Sometimes it was frustrating, but we'd have to go back to old-school [methods]." "You'd have to improvise a lot." Work at the clinic was exhausting, and the area he lived in was dangerous -- he was robbed twice during his 15 months there. Things began to change for him when his grandfather passed away in Cuba. Valles-Bravo was devastated, and the government would not allow him to leave his post at the clinic to attend the funeral. Eight months later, Valles-Bravo crossed the border into Colombia, and he applied at the U.S. Embassy as a Cuban refugee. 38 RESERVIST � Issue 1 • 2018

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