Navy veteran Laura Hubka
Wed, 11/08/2017 - 1:10pm admin
—Military teaches respect ability to reach out to people
Sara Stromseth-Troy TPD Staff
Riceville - United States Navy veteran Laura Hubka credits her experience in the military for teaching her valuable life lessons.
“I think that the military helped me meet and reach out to so many people from all over the country with different lifestyles and who had lived different lives. It taught me to respect others with differing attitudes and visions,” she said.
Hubka obtained the rank of HM3 (Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class) E-4, serving from 1983-1994. She said she joined the military because she wanted to get an education.
“All the men in my family and my sister had joined the military. I knew I could get into the medical field this way and get paid while doing it. I also am very patriotic and wanted to serve my country,” Hubka said.
“I was a Navy brat and grew up in California and Nevada. My senior year of high school, my parents moved us to Decorah. I graduated in 1983 and joined the Navy that summer. While in the Navy I was trained in ultrasound and received my national registry in 1994. I spent 12 years away from Iowa and had three children.”
Hubka began her military career in Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., which is located near Washington, D.C. and is typically where United States presidents go for care. Then, she went to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, with a short stint of training in Field Medicine, and then at the Naval Hospital. She was sent to Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Va.
Hubka narrowly missed being sent to Iraq:
“I was the one and only corpsman not sent from my station to Iraq, only because of my training in ultrasound,” she shared. “I was the only one that could do it at my base. All of my shipmates got sent.”
Harrowing news followed:
“Within a week, we were told that fleet hospital 5 (where they were) was bombed. We all were very upset but it turns out it was faulty information.”
Early military career
Hubka’s early career was filled with memorable experiences:
“I drew the blood of President Ronald Reagan and was so scared to mess up. I was only 19 at the time. We were allowed to do so many things that someone like us would never be allowed to do now. I really enjoyed the late night talks with the Vietnam veterans, many of them were POWs. There were so many stories of bravery and sacrifice.”
Military life has its challenges:
“A challenge is having a family and knowing that at any time you can be pulled away; that your life is not your own while you are in the service. Everyone, including your family, must be willing to sacrifice at any time,” she recalled.
Hubka endured harassment:
“I lived through a lot of harassment while in the military. I took most of it on the chin because I knew at the time that nothing would come of me complaining about it. There were many jokes and inappropriate remarks to me and about my female shipmates. Most of us did not want to be complainers or have our superiors treat us differently and somehow force us out. We held a lot in.”
Today, as she looks back on her military career, Hubka said it helps put her life in perspective:
“The biggest life lessons learned are that helping people and your country is my job. I spent 10 years of my life in service of this country for the rights we hold dear. I know that many people nowadays do not understand what that means in reality, but we must stand up for our country and everything it has been over the years, right or wrong.”
She continued, “One of my chiefs told me before I got out that ‘We are a young country; we have a lot of learning to do. In comparison to other countries that are thousands of years old, we are only a few hundred years old. We don’t know everything, but we are learning.’ I always try to remember that when I wish we could move forward a bit faster, but I am patient.”
Hubka offers the following advice to young people considering joining the military:
“The atmosphere is different now, at least I have heard so, and the harassment is being handled differently. I do not think that should deter any woman from wanting to join up and serve her country. I know personally that it changed my life in many ways. It made me more accountable and responsible. There are many jobs for women to do in the military and they are all easily looked up online. I chose the Navy because of the medical training I wanted. It was not easy. It was a life experience that you will carry with you forever. What you put in, you will get out. No slacking: You have a steady paycheck and responsibility from day one.”
Hubka’s life today
After she completed her service in the United States Navy, Hubka moved back to Northeast Iowa in 1994, working in ultrasound in hospitals in Decorah, West Union, Mercy in Mason City and currently at Regional Health Services of Howard County in Cresco.
Hubka lives in Riceville with her husband, Kenny. Until 2001, she lived in Cresco and her children attended Crestwood High School.
“My children are all grown up and married now, and I have four grandchildren and one on the way,” she smiled.
Hubka is a familiar face around Howard County: In 2014, she ran for the Iowa House seat in District 51.
“I have been actively involved with the community from my first months here by helping with haunted houses and becoming active in the legislative process in many ways, including supporting candidates I agree with and running for office myself. I also continue to show up to forums and pay attention to what is going on in the Iowa legislature,” she stated.
Making a difference
Hubka has more plans to help make a difference in the community:
“I plan on helping with a Kindness Project that has been started by Brittany Chipera in Cresco. I want our town to be open and welcoming to our residents no matter what life they have led or what color of skin they have. I want to actively work on lessening the bullying in our schools and streets. I know it can be done if we start speaking up and helping out. There are so many good people in this county. I want us to show it,” she said.
Hubka has taken what she learned during her 11 years of service and put it to work in her daily life, as she continues to show pride in her country, state, county and personal life.