To Stay a Soldier
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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Doc, if you try to take me out of the 82d, youll be hearing from my congressman. The young soldier with tattooed arms strained against the bedrails, his eyes searching the doctors face above, his twisted, purplish leg surrounded by a black steel cage of bolts and rods that held his shattered bones together. He was one of many men and women wheeled from surgery to therapy to their rooms and back again, in a circle of hope and pain on Ward 57 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I was so new in the job as Deputy Commander for Clinical Services Top Doc at the medical center that I had not finished orientation. I met this soldier on one of my first daily walk-rounds through the wards of wounded soldiers. He had been severely injured several months before. Every new orthopedic trick known was being applied to save his injured limb and return him to the ranks. In any other war, the injury he had sustained would have led to amputation, a medical disability board, and a rapid transition to care in a Department of Veterans Affairs VA facility. But not this war. This soldier was a soldier by choice. He did not want to leave his unit, his fellow soldiers, and the life he had found in uniform. I did not suggest a transfer to him again. My job at Walter Reed was to ensure that soldiers received the best, safest medical care America had to offer. My boss outlined a two-pronged approach to the tasks at hand. First, the hospital had to continue to exceed the standards of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Second, working with the other deputy commanders, I was to address the problem of the medical hold population.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Medicine and Medical Research