My name is Lieutenant Commander Maya Thompson. I’m a pharmacist with the Indian Health Service with the Commissioned Corps in Chinle, Arizona. I can’t even imagine my life not in the Commissioned Corps. I think it makes me feel worthy. It makes me feel like I have a sense of accomplishment and that I am doing something for a greater good, that it’s not just for a personal gain, that it’s for the public and it’s for advancing the health of our nation.

Hello! My name’s Maya. I’m a pharmacist. What’s your name?

I joined the Commissioned Corps when I finished my pharmacy studies. I had heard a lot about the Commissioned Corps throughout my years in schooling and several people who had come back who had had experiences with the Public Health Service who had said that they really enjoyed their experiences. And I thought that it would be an interesting thing to check out. So that’s what kind of got me interested in doing it.

Being where I am is a unique location in that I live on the Navajo reservation and it’s a pretty remote location. The population here is not the same. It’s not the same type of environment as in just the general population. I mean, people live in more remote areas and sometimes it’s harder to get access to healthcare. And so I feel that being here gives me, I guess, a little more opportunity to do something.

The mission of the Commissioned Corps is to protect and advance public health throughout the nation, and that can take form in many ways through prevention programs with vaccines or through emergency disaster relief. We’re also deployed to both national and international disasters and emergency response.


I think that what gives me the greatest satisfaction is that even if it’s just one person, that’s good for me.

Do you know what type of medication that he was getting from his doctor?

As a commissioned officer working with the Indian Health Service in a remote location, we have great opportunities to work with physicians, nurses, and other members of the healthcare team because we all live together. We live in government housing and we’re able to establish friendships, relationships that you don’t get in other sectors of healthcare.

It’s a career. It’s not just a job. And it’s also just about a lifestyle and a way of living. Since I’ve been here I’ve become part of the community. I participate in some of the community activities and after hours we have potluck dinners every so often. We invite people from our department and other departments and we’ll just get together and hang out and have a good time.

So tell me some more about the petroglyphs on the walls. Like, what type of meaning do they have?

These were done by the Anasazi people. Supposedly they represented certain clans.

I love being out here, just the wide open spaces and just this natural beauty around here. It’s amazing, absolutely amazing. And it’s just serene and calm and gives me a chance to do some of the things that I like to do—sketching and sometimes painting a little bit. But I really enjoy learning about the Navajo culture and customs.

To me the Commissioned Corps means a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment. It means a way of life and it means a career, a lifelong career.