Can't Stop, Won't Stop: Suazo Uses Muscle, Heart to Get the Job Done
This article represents the latest in a series of personal interest stories designed to spotlight notable people, stories and achievements across the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command. If you would like to recommend a specific Soldier or civilian employee for this series, please contact Ramin A. Khalili, USAMRDC Public Affairs Office Writer, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Somewhere in the northwest quadrant of Fort Detrick, deep inside the Logistics Readiness Center, past the rows of cardboard boxes and order slips and rolls and rolls of packing tape, stands U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command Staff Sgt. Javier Suazo. You may not be familiar with his name, but he certainly knows yours – which is to say he knows the name of almost everybody on post. As a medical supply sergeant with logistics (G4), knowing who you are – and more importantly where you are – is part of his job.
"I move stuff, I drive a forklift, I move cargo boxes," says Suazo, running down his hefty daily checklist like it's no big deal. "Basically, if it has anything to do with movement, shipping, receiving, then I'm doing it."
If it all sounds routine to Suazo, that's because he's had a lot of practice. The Miami, Florida native has been stationed at USAMRDC for just two years, but in that short amount of time he's made a substantial impact – most specifically with regard to the command's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the very beginning, almost two full years ago, Suazo has been moving at breakneck pace to get key equipment into the right hands. In the first month of the pandemic alone, he ordered, packed and shipped more than six thousand pieces of PPE for Army Futures Command subordinate units; equipment which was then distributed across four separate Army installations. Closer to home, he later collaborated on an effort to deliver more than 500 "push packs" (or, packages of rubber gloves, hand sanitizer and masks) to USAMRDC headquarters offices for on-site staff. Even now, the work continues.
"I like helping people, and so that's why I like my job," says Suazo, a six-year Army veteran who's been deployed twice – once to Afghanistan and once to Qatar. "Going around and giving people what they need – including the things that could help save lives during a pandemic. I feel like that's a way of giving back."
Statements like that display a maturity that usually only comes with age. And yet, at just 27 years old, Suazo's dedication to hustle and hard work have earned him a list of admirers across the command. In 2020 for instance, Mark Davis, Deputy Chief of Staff for G4, referred to Suazo as his "own personal Batman" for his superhero-like efforts at the outset of the pandemic. Even now, years later, his coworkers continue to see ample evidence of his dedication on a daily basis.
"The thing that distinguishes him from every other NCO, no matter what rank they are, is his heart," says Altonia "Toni" Chatman, USAMRDC property book officer, about Suazo. "He has a heart for people, and he has a humble heart. And so that's what makes him such an awesome NCO; and it means he's willing to do a lot of things that most people will not do."
In return – and again, here's that celebrated poise and maturity – Suazo calls Chatman a great friend and continued source of inspiration during what have become long hours and days at the LRC. "Seeing her work hard and always staying motivated – it's pushed me to try and be like her," he says.
All that being said, Suazo's time performing all that packing and shipping will come to an end next month, as he's been selected to undergo drill sergeant training at Fort Jackson, in South Carolina. Once training is completed, he'll continue to be stationed there for the immediate future, according to the Army. To hear Suazo tell it, this next step in his career is a kind of double-sided win: it's a chance to not only further his professional goals, but also to translate his own personal life experiences to a wider audience.
Says Suazo, "I want to be a drill sergeant because I'll be teaching the new generation and I could probably show them, 'hey, if you take care of someone, they're going to take care of you."
Until then, if you need Staff Sgt. Suazo, you know where to find him – sifting through packages, handbills, hand receipts and all other manner of paperwork and cargo over at the LRC. Just another day, just another chance to push himself to the limit for the good of the team, for the benefit of the command.
"I feel like achieving success is when you're helping someone," says Suazo. "That's what I believe."