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2nd Lt Wetstein's Journey from Enlisted to Officer

Wetstein studying
By U.S. Navy MCSN Robert Ferrone

Students at Uniformed Services University come from various backgrounds. Approximately half have no military experience; some enrolled straight from high school, others spent time working as civilians.

Those who are prior service are either already commissioned officers, or they transitioned from the enlisted side.

For Berish Wetstein, now a 2nd Lt in the U.S. Air Force and a first year student, here, the path wasn’t clearly paved.

A native of New Jersey, Wetstein first enlisted with the New Jersey Air National Guard in 2007 at 17 while still attending high school. He spent ten years in the enlisted ranks, and reached staff sergeant before coming to a huge life decision.

“Initially, I intended on going to medical school in New Jersey as a traditional guardsman,” Wetstein said. “However, when I came to USU’s open house, saw the mission and what USU was really all about I knew it was the right place for me.”

Wetstein set several goals for himself. USU afforded him the opportunity to reach more than one of those.

Wetstein smiles for the camera
Berish Wetstein has gone from an enlisted service member in the Air National Guard to a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Air Force. Wetstein is now a student at the Uniformed Services University F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine. (U.S. Navy photo illustration by MCSN Robert Ferrone)

“I always knew I wanted to attend medical school and also knew of the educational benefits the military offered,” Wetstein said. “Ever since I enlisted, I also wanted to one day become an officer. This really is the best of both worlds.”

Now about halfway through his inaugural year at USU’s school of medicine, Wetstein has the background and motivation to traverse the long road ahead.

Students in the school of medicine receive 700 additional hours of education that focus largely on areas such as epidemiology, health promotion, leadership and field exercise, disease prevention and tropical medicine.

The grueling schedule can be stressful for anyone. Handling that stress and the pressures of both medical school and military life in positive ways is integral to success.

Wetstein offered some advice to any prospective students who may think USU is the right fit.

“Being a team player and making sure your class succeeds with you is what matters,” he said. “Helping your wingmen, shipmates, and battle buddies succeed alongside you is what USU is all about. Being an individual that values keeping their unit’s morale high is also very important.”