He’s packed a lot of living in his 26 years - he’s seen a lot, done a lot and experienced a lot for one so young. Chris Bennett was born and raised in Niceville and attended elementary, middle school and high school in his home town. Dating as far back as the Civil War, his family has always been service oriented, so from a young age, he knew he wanted to join the military. What he didn’t know was which branch he would choose until the day two Marines in their dress uniforms walked down the Niceville High School hallway. From that point on, there was no question.
After his high school graduation, Bennett signed on the dotted line and went through Boot Camp at Paris Island, SC. “The proudest day of my life was when I was presented the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, symbols of the United States Marine Corps. I was exhausted, hot, smelly and hungry, having come off of 3-days of intensive orienting that tested all of my body’s limits, but I knew I had earned the designation. It wasn’t given to me. Up until that time, I was a ‘recruit’, but after the presentation, I was a Marine.” That sentiment carries through everything Chris does – work hard, don’t give up, keep going even when times are tough and earn what you are working for.
After some additional training and Infantry School, Bennett was deployed to the Helmand Province of Afghanistan where he saw and experienced life as a 21-year old Marine. “I was in Afghanistan for 8 months and was blessed to come home all in one piece. Some of my buddies did not, so I do what I do, not just for myself, but for them,” Bennett said.
One of the things he does is attend NWFSC’s Nursing School with a scheduled graduation date of May 2016. Upon completion of his degree and licensure, he would love to work in an Emergency Room, ICU or with cancer patients. “It’s an honor for me to be with patients in the hard times of their lives, to hear their stories and share in some of their life experiences makes me realize how really fortunate I am,” he said. Eventually Bennett would like to continue his education and become a Nurse Practitioner with a goal of one day opening a practice with other colleagues.
A recipient of the Eglin Federal Credit Union/Thomas Braswell Scholarship, Bennett believes being a returning student gave him some advantages. “I had some ‘life’ under me and took my studies very seriously. I came to NWFSC because I wanted an education and had no intention of wasting the opportunity. Receiving the EFCU/Braswell Scholarship has helped me tremendously. Taking away some of the financial worry really makes my class and study time much easier.” Bennett currently carries a 3.2 GPA in the Nursing Program and gives back to the college by serving as a tutor for students needing some assistance in Anatomy and Physiology.
When discussing his experiences at NWFSC, Bennett compliments Dr. Ted Barker, Dr. David Schjott, Dr. Jean Mitchell, Dr. Vickie Hunt and Mr. Chris Mizell for their classroom instruction as well as their willingness to spend before and after classroom time explaining concepts and answering questions.
A self-admitted adrenalin junkie, Bennett made his first skydive as a gift to himself on his recent 26th birthday and is a long-distance runner. He regularly runs marathons, and earlier this year completed the Destin 50 Miler, in support of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, finishing in slightly more than 11 hours.
When Chris Bennett receives his nursing pin at the culmination of his studies, he will have achieved yet another goal. He won’t be given his pin; he will have earned it!