A Medic in Iraq

“You what? You volunteered to go to Iraq even though you are in your thirties and had never held a gun in your hand before then?” I asked the doctor. “Well, not exactly the way you put it, but close.” So, I asked him to elaborate. And he did.

He was an oby-gyne doctor, helping women through pregnancies and all types of female problems. One day, an Army Reserve recruitment officer visited the hospital where he employed his skills. The poster at her booth indicated that she was offering a fifteen hundred dollar a month stipend and commissioned officer status to qualified medical personnel. He thought about it for a moment- three kids at home for whom he was paying private school tuition and decided it was a good idea. He asked the lady if there really was any need for obstetricians in Iraq and she showed him the list of understaffed medical categories that the Army was desperately looking to fill. At the top of the list was oby-gyne. So he signed up.

It’s not that the Army would be sending him overseas immediately after training. As a matter of fact, he had to first qualify to be able to use a weapon. They gave him a 9mm gun, told him to point it at the target. He had thirty shot attempts. If he hit sixteen, he was in. It took several rounds and the drill instructor added up all the hits he made in all the rounds and it was good enough. Hey, he was a doctor, supposed to save lives not eliminate them.

During the first year he was sent to Fort Dix to work on state-side military personnel. Into the second year, he got the call that he eventually expected- to get ready to go to Iraq. First stop was Kuwait- one large sand trap unless you were lucky enough to be bivouacked in Kuwait City. Next stop was Tikrit and then Mosul in Iraq. He did very little female medical work at first. But because he was a surgeon, the Army wasn’t fussy and had him do triage work for soldiers hurt in skirmishes. Eventually word got out that there was an oby-gyne doctor in the theater of operations and he started regularly receiving patients in his specialty from all over.

I asked him how much longer he was committed to this extra curricular work. He said his tour of duty was just about up but liked it so much, he was planning on re-enlisting. Even a doctor can be all he can be in the Army, I guess.

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