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News | Oct. 20, 2021

Florida native finds calling ensuring NATO readiness

By Marcy Sanchez

A selfless grounding led Jacksonville, Florida native, Brian Baham, in search of something bigger than himself. Six years later, he now helps others rehabilitate and carry on following injury, illness or surgery.

Assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) Healthcare Facility in Belgium, Baham, now a sergeant in the U.S. Army, finds meaning in helping others as a physical therapy technician, describing his work as “rewarding.”

“I absolutely love it,” he said about the physical therapy profession. “There's no better reward than patients coming back (after treatment) saying thank you.”

Prior to enlisting, Baham worked as a community organizer and assisting others find career opportunities through nonprofit organizations, where he learned the value of public service and benevolence.

“I have (traditional) parents, so their mentality was; stay busy, stay out of trouble,” said Baham. “They encouraged me to learn something, learn a trade, go to school and pass it on to somebody else so when they replace you, you know the job is getting done correctly.”

Although originally joining the Army as an information technology specialist, Baham desired a more practical profession to exercise the compassion his parents instilled in him.

“His work has created a very efficient department, we have extremely high access to care and able to get a high patient load through quickly,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Garrett Norsworthy, senior enlisted leader to the deputy commander for nursing, SHAPE Healthcare Facility. “He's been a good asset to the team, he's got a great leadership mind, able to shape intent and use it to guide Soldiers, set an example and help work toward accomplishing the mission.”

While first-rate leadership traits are expected of Army noncommissioned officers, SHAPE Healthcare Facility’s multinational operations and partnerships across Europe, Africa and other places, magnify the impact of quality leadership and patient care, which Baham exhibits daily.

“The unique thing about SHAPE when compared to other Army health clinics is the patient population. We serve 18,000 patients from 30 Allied Nations in NATO and 21 Nations and partners for peace,” said Norsworthy, who oversees enlisted personnel at SHAPE’s ancillary services, physical therapy being one of them. “Baham is working with a multinational force and their dependents and he's providing them with the follow up care after they get injured or get surgery to help them get back in the fight.”

For Baham, a strength training enthusiast, just as patience is key to building muscle and improving athletic performance, it’s also crucial for working in the physical therapy field and for physical therapy patients alike.

“Everything takes patience, we can sit here and come up with a plan all day long to rehabilitate (injuries), but at the end of the day we can only go as far or as fast as the patient will allow us to go and how far or fast a patient is willing to go themselves,” said Baham. “Nothing happens overnight, you see it (in physical therapy) more than anywhere else.”

As part of SHAPE Healthcare Facility’s fight against COVID-19, prevention and detection efforts are instrumental in keeping infection rates low in the multinational community, located just south of Brussels. The efficient and proactive measures, which Baham has been a part of for nearly a year, have earned the SHAPE health care team praise from the Belgium government and media.

“People might look at (COVID-19 operations) as monotonous, the same thing every day, I think there’s a bigger picture,” said Baham. “You're helping somebody get to the next part in their life or achieve their next goal. I think it's tremendous.”

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