MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Imagine yourself being reclined almost upside down in a dentist’s chair, your heart racing as your stomach falls into your throat. You soon see a person come into view wearing a paper mask that hides their identity and blocks the light as they begin the arduous quest of cleaning your mouth. Who is that person behind the mask you wonder?
The people of 2nd Dental Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, are unique individuals from all parts of the world. Veiled by the mask of dentistry, they’ve walked down different roads, all leading to the second floor of building 15 here. Together they work hard to give the best dental care possible to the Marines and Sailors of MCB Camp Lejeune.
The small town girl with big dreams Petty Officer 3rd Class Heather J. Pylican is a dental assistant with 2nd Dental Battalion. A small town girl from Idaho, Pylican joined the Navy right after high school. She chose the dental field as her primary field to learn an interesting skill and to expand her horizons about something other than ships and sailing.
“I was a patient when I was a kid and always wondered what that sucky thing they put in your mouth was,” Pylican
recalled. “Now that I’m in this field, I’ve learned all the terms for everything.”
Pylican currently works as the liaison between dentists and patients, ensuring that all appointments are organized and progress as smoothly as possible. Prior to this assignment, Pylican worked as a dental assistant in the pediatric unit at Naval Station Rota, Spain.
“It was a lot of fun,” Pylican explained. “I’ve put braces on children and worked in the operating room. It’s been amazing the things I’ve learned.”
Pylican's numerous experiences and world travels changed her life forever. One of the most profound changes she noticed was the change in herself.
“I’ve learned and experienced things you can adapt into your life and see the way it changes you and the way you can help others.” Pylican said. “I think the best experience is learning that people in general are amazing. You learn about what people think, what they feel and why. I think it’s the most important thing for any job.”
The man with a mission Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Meza is a surgical technician with 2nd Dental Battalion. Meza grew up in Los Angeles in the rough part of the city. He knew nothing about other cities outside of L.A. but was determined to leave his environment and become a doctor. Meza saw the Navy as a way to make his dreams come true. So when the opportunity arose, he raised his right hand to support and defend the U.S. and became a Sailor.
“I’ve been in the Navy for seven years,” Meza said. “It’s been a great experience and I’ve always worked with great providers, great surgeons and great people around me.”
Meza adds that working with great surgeons during procedures allows him to learn more about his job and his abilities. He now assists with surgeries and procedures that the average Sailor would never dream of performing.
“We take care of anything pertaining to oral surgery, implants and any type of biopsy,” Meza explained. “When we go to the naval hospital, we do surgeries that consist of reconstruction of the jaw and anything else that needs a larger facility and more equipment.”
Finding someone in the military who is truly passionate about their work is not hard to find. Like his fellow military members, Meza's extreme passion for the tedious surgical procedures he helps to perform is necessary and genuine.
“It always came from the heart,” Meza continued. “I’ve always had a passion for the medical field and helping others and I think that’s what led me here.”
Meza says he feels very fortunate to work in such a diverse environment and that he would not have it any other way.
“People here are from all different kinds of places,” Meza said. “It brings diversity into your everyday life and I think it brings a good bit of morale to the battalion.”
The lady with a love for life Mrs. Yvonne M. Amarh, a dental assistant with 2nd Dental Battalion, has worked with Marines and Sailors aboard MCB Camp Lejeune for almost four years. Her duties as a dental assistant varies from scheduling oral surgeries for patients to actually assisting with tooth extractions and fluid draining during procedures.
Originally from Ghana, Africa, Amarh came to the United States in 2001 to start a career in journalism. Instead, she went back to school to study dental surgery.
“I love my job and I won’t ever work in anything else,” Amarh said. “I love that you can make someone a whole new person through surgery and that I can really help people.”
Amarh also says dental surgery is a very interesting field to work in but it's the people you work with that makes you fall in love with your job.
“To have a good working atmosphere, it all depends on the type of people you work with,” Amarh explained. “We have a great team here and I love the people that I work with. If you’re falling short, somebody will always help you out.”
Amarh, Meza and Pylican are just three of the many different people who make up the 2nd Dental Battalion. With a mission, big dreams and a love for life, they contribute to the task of getting the job done and supporting the Marines and Sailors of MCB Camp Lejeune.