When Las Vegas dentist Anthony Hua walked into the room on Friday, the crowd of active-duty service members of the 6th Medical Recruiting Battalion gathered inside erupted with a resounding “Hooah!”
It was a fitting greeting, given that Hua’s last name is a homonym for the famous Army battle cry.
The occasion was a commissioning ceremony at the Hampton Inn Tropicana for Hua, 33, who moments later was sworn in as a U.S. Army Reserve captain.
“I really appreciate your willingness to serve,” Lt. Gen. Nadja West told Hua before he took his oath. “We’re not in an environment where there’s a great propensity to serve.”
West’s presence to deliver the oath was notable, as the three-star general is in high demand.
She is the first black female to attain that rank and is the highest-ranking female graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
She also brought an inspiring backstory along, having grown up as one of 12 adopted children in an Army family, 10 of whom also grew up to serve in the military.
“There’s no way on Earth, in any other country, that I’d be where I am today, from where I started from,” she said. “The ability to administer the oath to someone who says ‘I wanna join’ is humbling to me.”
Hua’s duties in the Reserve will include dentistry, but he will also oversee and lead other dentists, with other tasks that might be asked of him.
As part of his commitment, he will spend one weekend a month in Garden Grove, California, practicing dentistry and overseeing other reservists providing dental care. Then once a year he will participate in a two-week training either in Garden Grove or elsewhere in the United States.
Hua, who will continue to see patients at Staples Dental in Las Vegas, said he saw joining the Reserve as an opportunity to represent the nation.
“It’s something I always thought about because of the level of respect our servicemen and women have,” he said. “… I enjoy being part of something bigger than I am, and there’s nothing bigger than the U.S. Army.”
After receiving a certificate of appreciation and flowers Friday, Hua was presented with an “Army Officer’s Guide” by Staff Sgt. Zachary Anderson, who told him, “This is your bible.”
Anderson said that recruiting civilian nurses, doctors and dentists and other in-demand professions for the Army is important.
“They’re the ones who help stabilize and rehabilitate the soldiers today in today’s Army … not only with soldiers but for the family members,” he said.
“The first thing that I got out of Dr. Hua was his passion and his ability to perfect his skill. … It’s huge opportunity to take those same skill sets he has and share them with his peers.”
Receiving his commission from West was an honor, Hua said, especially during Women’s History Month.
“She’s definitely a historical figure; she’ll be mentioned in textbooks for years to come,” he said. “I hope like her, I can lead by example, earn respect and instill qualities in others to set them up for success.”
Hua’s next step is a six-week leadership training course at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.