In the span of a few hours one day last spring, Ohio Army National Guard 1LT Sara Stigler reached three major milestones in her life – all while wearing a hospital gown.
“It is definitely a day I will never forget,” she said.
It all began on Friday night, May 18, when 1LT Stigler went into labor with her first child. She texted her administrative officer, CPT Amanda Harder of the Ohio Army National Guard Medical Detachment (based in Columbus), with this message: “Definitely not coming to drill … water just broke and we’re at the hospital now.”
“For her to contact me the day she was going into labor says a lot about her as a Citizen-Soldier,” CPT Harder said. “And it shows her loyalty to the Ohio National Guard and her duty as a Soldier to keep her unit and her first line leader informed of her situation.”
In addition to drill that weekend, 1LT Stigler was scheduled to graduate on May 19 from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Instead of wearing a cap and gown, she was at Cincinnati’s Good Samaritan Hospital in a hospital gown.
At 3:14 a.m. May 19, just hours before her scheduled graduation, 1LT Stigler and her husband, Curtis Maples, welcomed their son, Blaise Carver Maples.
“Honestly, I wasn’t that disappointed to miss graduation,” 1LT Stigler said. “The thought of sitting through a long ceremony at nine months pregnant was not really appealing, and Blaise was a great graduation gift.”
1LT Stigler direct commissioned into the Army National Guard through the Medical and Dental Student Stipend Program when she began medical school. While in school, she drilled with the Ohio Guard Medical Detachment in Columbus, Ohio, enabling her to simultaneously learn to be a Soldier and medical professional. 1LT Stigler was paired with (retired COL) Dr. Steve Ulrich, a family practice doctor and retired colonel in the Ohio Army National Guard, who has served as her mentor throughout her journey in medical school and in the National Guard.
Ulrich and his wife, Terri had made the trip to Cincinnati from their home in Perry County, Ohio, to attend 1LT Stigler’s graduation. They happily switched plans to visit the new mom and her baby in
the hospital. Ulrich suggested that while he was there, he could swear her in as a field surgeon.
Just four hours after giving birth and still wearing a hospital gown, 1LT Stigler raised her right hand and took the oath while her husband, Terri Ulrich and three hospital security guards looked on as witnesses.
“It was a very special moment,” Ulrich said. “It is the unique blend of military tradition, adaptation to circumstance and flexibility. My wife and I were honored to be a part of the joy of the day and help a Guard Family celebrate both accomplishments.”
1LT Stigler will do her residency in family medicine at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati while juggling duties as a new mom and a field surgeon. She said support from her husband and a great network of friends will help her find the right balance between work and family.
“Serving my county had always been a desire of mine, and I was really drawn to the Guard because of the idea of being able to help my local community in times of crisis,” she said. “Becoming a physician has also been a long-term dream of mine, and joining the medical corps was the perfect intersection of both of those goals.”
Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard