At 58, Farragut resident joins Navy as a way to ‘give back’
When Farragut’s Split Rail Farm subdivision resident Dr. John Galdun, 59, received a letter last year asking him to consider joining the U.S. Naval Reserve, he saw that request as an opportunity to “give back.”
“I just missed Vietnam on my age and they even stopped the selective service registration,” said Galdun, who took the plunge and joined the Navy. He is now a lieutenant commander in the Medical Corps who is a full-time reservist with a commitment for eight years. “We’re given a tremendous opportunity to live in this country, and I felt a strong need to give something back in that regard.
“I’m at a position in my life where, yes, I am getting close to retirement,” Galdun added. “But this is a perfect opportunity for me since I don’t have young children; we’re pretty well-established with our location, our finances, and I am extremely comfortable.”
About his commitment, “I will expect to do one weekend a month, anywhere from 12 to 29 days of what’s considered ‘active duty’ per year,” Galdun said. “The officers’ training was active duty. This year, I will have a couple of active duties. One is at a training site in Texas and another, I believe we’re going to Wisconsin next summer.”
Galdun, an anesthesiologist at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, said he received the letter from U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Doug “Woody” Beal in February 2016.
“[Getting a letter from a rear admiral is] something you don’t get every day,” he said. “For whatever reason, this letter sat on my desk for a couple days. It kind of hit a nerve.”
After responding, Galdun went through an application process and was accepted. His commissioning ceremony was Sept. 16, 2016. Galdun then attended officers’ training in Newport, Rhode Island.
“That’s kind of one of the first hurdles,” he said. “If you are accepted, you initially come in and you are given the rank of an officer and it is all conditional on one, getting through the officers’ training course and two, updating and maintaining your certification in your area of expertise.”
Another hurdle was making sure he was fit for duty. Galdun said he was concerned about whether or not he could physically cut being in the Navy.
“Twice yearly, the Navy has what they call PRTs, or physical readiness tests,” he said, adding candidates also have to pass a body composition analysis.
He did not pass the initial physical readiness test because of a previous medical condition, but eventually was approved. Being a lifelong exercise enthusiast helped.
Galdun also had the support of his wife, Annette, and grown children, Claire, Patrick and Emily Galdun. The Galduns have no grandchildren.
“They were surprised but they were very proud,” Annette said, referring to their children.
“I think it’s good for the aging population to embark on such an experience at our age,” Galdun said. “Plus, [Annette] if she had not been a rock, I could not do it.”
Galdun has been training on his drill weekends at the Naval Operations Support Center along Alcoa Highway, right across from The University of Tennessee Medical Center.
“Even though I’ve been in for a little less than a year, my route has been a little bit circuitous in that, initially, I was attached to what’s called an OHSU, or an Operational Health Support Unit, which is a hospital based out of Camp Lejeune, [North Carolina],” he said. “Since then, I’ve been moved to a Marine detachment, which is based out of Camp Pendleton, California. It’s the 4th Medical Battalion, Surgery Company Alpha.”
As far as practicing medicine in the field, he already has experience: Galdun practiced emergency medicine before going into anesthesiology, he said.