America's Military

Spc. Andre Barnes is an Army Dental Specialist serving at Fort Lee, Va.

Unit: Fort Lee Dental Clinic Command

Hometown: Norfolk

Age: 25

Time in service: six years

Military occupational specialty: 68E – dental specialist (with a preventive dentistry additional skill identifier).  According to www.goarmy.com, dental specialists assist Army dentists in the examination and treatment of service members’ teeth. They help dentists prepare for operations by selecting and arranging instruments and taking patient’s dental impressions and X-rays. They also manage the dental offices and patient records, perform preventive cleanings, take the patient’s blood pressure and pulse, and help administer anesthesia when needed.

Strengths: “Understanding people and being a hard worker.”

Weaknesses: “The ability to communicate. When I’m one-on-one, it’s simple, but when I’m in a group setting, I can get kind of shy.”

Pastimes: “I play video games and basketball, and I like to spend money (laugh).”

Favorite quote: “‘Wear the rank on your chest, and prove to others you deserve it.’ (Carry yourself) like no one gave it to you; you’ve earned it.”

Worst fear: “Death, or more specifically, what happens in the afterlife.”

Pet peeves: “The (unthinking) actions people take. When you do something wrong, and you know you’re wrong, why did you do it in the first place? The actions people sometimes take get on my nerves.”

Dream car: “It was a Nissan Maxima when I was like 5 years old; now it’s a Mercedes Benz E350.”

What you believe in: “I believe in God, having a better life, having faith in others and working toward goals to be a better person.”

Greatest achievement: “I would say graduating high school with an advanced diploma. Where I’m from, that’s something you don’t see (often). Just knowing I earned it and knowing I’m here today because of it (is fulfilling).”

One person you admire: “My (adopted) mother. She’s a fighter, and she has strengths and abilities I’ve never seen in a woman. She inspires me to be better and do more. She makes me believe anything is possible.”

The historical figure or celebrity you’d like to meet: “(Dr.) Martin Luther King (Jr.). I say that because we share the same birthday. His ‘I have a dream’ speech is touching because he talked about bringing the different races together.”

Talk about your childhood: “It was different. I grew up in two different households – one was broken and the one I live in now (with an adopted mother) was a blessing. ... When I was in the ninth grade, something happened with my (biological) mom, and it didn’t work out well. In the end, it was my (adopted) mother being there and being my backbone through the grace of God.”

One life-changing event: “It was the summer after my 9th grade year. I had surgery for some type of staff infection. I had to carry around this pump that kept medicine in me the entire time. People didn’t look at me like I was disabled or different, but rather as someone who needed this life-saving, IV-looking thing so I could keep moving. I felt good people didn’t see exception to this and were not judgmental.”

Why you joined the Army: “My (adopted) mother realized during the college application process that we couldn’t afford school and a comfortable living, so I took it upon myself to do something about it. … Everyone may not have agreed with it, but I wanted to do it. ”

Why you chose your MOS: “They gave me the options of combat engineer, infantryman, etc. This female staff sergeant said there was this other job where you can make so much money – me, I’m all about the money – on the outside. I just went for it.”

What you like about dentistry: “I like everything about it because it’s so hands-on. You actually have to take time to learn this because you’re in somebody’s mouth. You have to understand everything about it – the different muscles, bones and teeth. There’s a lot to it and a lot of challenges. I’m all about challenge.”

What it means to you to wear the uniform: “Showing pride in my country – these are the standards; this is who we are….”

What you expect of leaders: “To be supportive, understanding, loyal and follow the Army Values.”

Best thing about the Army: “The benefits.’’

Worst thing about the Army: “Waking up early. I’m not a morning person.”

Where you see yourself in five years: “I don’t know. That’s a touchy question. Five years from now I’ll be 30. I don’t know if I’ll still be in this uniform or working on the outside.”