Sergeant Andrew Hampton, dental assistant at at Byrd/Adkins Dental Clinic, joined the Army because he wanted to make a difference in the world.
“I wanted to be a part of something different and bigger than me,” Hampton said. “I wanted something outside of my environment in Houston, [Texas]. I wanted to stay out of trouble and I wanted a legacy. I wanted a legacy where I could say I did something to make a difference. I didn’t live a hard life, but it would have been easy to get into trouble if I had let it.”
He joined the Army in February 2012. Upon deciding to join, Hampton said he was immediately drawn to the medical field and said dentistry chose him.
“I was working in security before I joined the Army, and I came across an Army medical recruitment website,” he said. “I put my information in, and they called me. I explained to the recruiter I wanted skills I could use outside of the Army, and the recruiter recommended dentistry.”
Hampton immediately began setting goals for himself. He wanted to become a certified dental hygienist, which he achieved, and he is working toward becoming a dentist.
“I’ve been in the Army for eight years now,” he said. “I’m working toward my bachelor’s degree in biology, once I have all of my science courses out of the way, I’m going to apply for dental school. I think dentistry has grown over the years, I think it has a lot of areas for you to grow, to try, to experience.”
Above all else, Hampton wants to create a legacy of helping people and giving back through his work in and out of the Army. In March, Hampton will have the honor of taking over as noncommissioned officer of the dental clinic.
“It’s not all about money, it’s about helping another person,” he said. “I wanted to be in the business where I can help other people, whether it’s through talking to them or personally helping them with an issue, and I feel dentistry can do that.”
Hampton comes from several generations of military service. He is the first in his Family to be in the medical field, and he will be his Family’s first medical doctor once he reaches his goal.
“I think the Army challenges me to grow,” Hampton said. “You have to think outside the box, you have to challenge yourself to think in different ways. The Army challenges you on a physical, mental and spiritual level. Every thought, every action, has consequences, good or bad. You have to be responsible for your actions.”
Black History Month
The Army’s strength comes from its diversity, Hampton said.
Black History Month is a perfect time to not only celebrate that diversity but to also honor the achievements of black Americans and recognize their important contributions throughout history to the Army and the nation.
“Being diverse is incredibly important because you need to understand all sides,” Hampton said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what color you are, you’re fighting for freedom. Freedom to live, to survive, to do whatever you want to do. We’re fighting for something bigger than us – we’re fighting for our freedom.”
In the Army everyone works and lives among different cultures, this multicultural mix provides the perfect opportunity to learn and expand perspectives, Hampton said.
“You build connections within the Army, they become your brothers and sisters,” he said. “You overcome stereotypes and fight barriers.”
In his job, Hampton strives to treat everyone fairly and with respect.
“Give everyone the same respect, be nice to them, kind to them, and show them you are willing to care about them,” he said. “People give back to you what you give to them. If you put people first, they appreciate it and do the same for you. My goal is to make patients comfortable and foster a home where they can be themselves and feel relaxed, they aren’t high-tension and hindering their care.”
Although Hampton’s Family members live in Texas, they are very supportive, especially his 4-year-old daughter. It can be difficult being so far away from Family, but he knows he is working toward something important.
“There’s no bad days and no days off for leaders,” Hampton said. “There’s always someone watching you. You have to be careful of what you do and what you say. Your influence is very powerful, you have to set the right examples for people to follow.”