BOSTON – Staff Sgt. David Bravo, a combat medic in the Massachusetts National Guard, was helping to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center when he realized one of his patients was his mother.
“My mother had never actually seen me do any medical stuff through the Army. She’s heard stories when I got promoted or received an award here and there, but she’s never seen me treat people, or give vaccines, or anything,” he said.
“For her, it was a huge shock when she actually saw me there because she didn’t know that I was going to give her her shot. And when she showed up, I was like, ‘Surprise, I’m going to give you your shot’,” Bravo said. “It was great. For her to get a little bit of protection from her son, it meant a lot to her. She kept on calling me to tell me, 'Thank you,' and I was like, ‘Mom, that’s what we do.’”
He called her a couple of hours after the vaccination to check to make sure she was OK.
“Honestly, I’ve been shot at, I’ve been blown up, all this stuff, and you get nervous,” he said. “But giving my mom a shot – and I’ve given like 1,800 shots in my career – this one got me the most nervous. I was shaking just because it was my mom.”
Bravo said at least a few hundred people are vaccinated at the East Boston site each day. Since his mother came in, he has seen other family members in high-risk categories at the clinic, including his brother, his aunt and a couple of cousins.
“Obviously, they’re not expecting you, you’re not expecting them. So, it’s kind of a nice way to say, like, ‘Surprise! Hey! How are you?’” said Bravo. “A lot of the times they’ll see you out of uniform, and when they see you in uniform and what you do, they’re like, ‘Oh wow, this is crazy.’
They just assumed I was like a combat medic, and they think I’m always out on the line – well, we’re very versatile. We go down to hospitals, we work with nursing homes, we get attached to different groups, and obviously, now we’re helping out with the COVID mission.”
When the mission in East Boston came up, he said “I’m there!” because he wanted to give back to his own neighborhood.
“We often respond to other places, but the great thing about the Massachusetts Army National Guard is you get to actually treat people and help people in your own communities where you grow up,” he said. “You get to actually make a difference and see the difference and see how people are receptive and appreciative of your efforts in the ongoing struggles against COVID. For me to be able to take care of my own mom and to see the benefits that come with it, I couldn’t ask for more.”