When Rhonda Philliber graduated from Neosho High School in 1982, she wasn't sure what to do. So, for two years she thrashed around, but a friend had decided to join the army as a military policeman. Philliber went with her friend as she enlisted and that started her thinking about her own future.

When Rhonda Philliber graduated from Neosho High School in 1982, she wasn't sure what to do. So, for two years she thrashed around, but a friend had decided to join the army as a military policeman. Philliber went with her friend as she enlisted and that started her thinking about her own future.
"I got to thinking that maybe the military was for me," Philliber said.
She soon enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army, assigned to the medical corps.
Today she's a major in the Army Reserves serving with the 325th Combat Support Hospital in Independence, Mo., where she is Head Nurse of the Intermediate Care Ward.
Since reserve duty is one weekend a month, with an annual two-week training, she is also employed with the Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks, working out of Mount Vernon, Mo.
Philliber has had a world of experiences since she joined the military. Her first "overseas" assignment was in Hawaii, where she served at the Tripler Army Medical Center and Schofield Barracks.
After that, she left the military and moved to Colorado, but after five years, she joined the Colorado Army National Guard and then moved into the Army Reserves.
Returning to Neosho in 1996, she got her first nurse's training at Crowder College and went on to get a bachelor's degree in nursing.
Since that time, Philliber has been deployed to Kuwait and Kosovo where she attended wounded or sick soldiers and many citizens. She especially enjoyed working with the local civilians, especially the children. When she went off base with a medical team, they always attracted kids. She feels that this interaction with the kids was worth their efforts.
In 2010, she was sent aboard the USS Iwo Jima on a humanitarian mission to Central and South America, doing medical work in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
 "My work in South America was more challenging because there was so much poverty," she said. "The people needed more help in South America than in Eastern Europe. In South America, there were few comforts, limited transportation—it was just less developed. Giving them cough syrup or vitamins was important since they didn't have access to these simple things."
Now Philliber works with veterans who need home care. She is part of a team that includes registered nurses, medical technicians, a pharmacist, a dietitian and other staff. They visit and treat veterans who cannot come to the clinic to get their needs taken care of.
Asked about her overall career as a nurse and a soldier, Philliber said, "I feel like I really made a difference, not just for the day, but for long time. Day to day, I took it for granted, but looking back I know I made a difference."
Recently, she met a man who had immigrated from Kosovo. He came to the United States and became a nurse in the military. He told her that he was one of those kids that American troops, such as herself, had treated nicely. That had inspired him to come to America and get his nurse's training. He is now serving in a combat support hospital and sending money home to support two brothers who are in medical school.
Philliber has served her country well for 30 years and has found her career challenging and rewarding. "I wouldn't change a thing," she said.