Maj. Farah Husain guesses she treated at least nine men for every female patient while deployed to Iraq in 2007. Still, the surgeon knows what a difference she made for those women.
"They feel more comfortable with a woman treating them and even the men (in Iraq) because the culture sees (women) as the more nurturing gender," Husain, chief of general surgery at Keller Army Community Hospital, said. "And here (in the United States), a lot of women appreciate having a woman provider. They are more comfortable discussing certain issues with a woman."
Husain, who has been at West Point for more than two years, is the first in her Family to serve in the U.S. Army. Her parents emigrated from Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the first-generation American was surrounded by former military doctors in her hometown in Wyoming.
Serving in the military seemed like a natural thing for a doctor, and Husain's Family was supportive of her decision. Husain has served for nearly a decade.
When she deployed to Iraq, there were five women on her 20-person surgical team and two other female surgeons in her hospital.
"You never felt like you were the only woman," she said. "Still, in surgery, you are surrounded by men and bravado. It was nice to be around women and discuss issues and read an 'US' magazine and not feel wimpy."
Husain, who is in the process of moving to Fort Gordon, Ga., said the medical corps is essentially gender-neutral. Good doctors are such because of their knowledge, she said. Still, she is glad she can be a comfort to her female patients because she understands many of the issues they face.
Being that comfort in a combat zone was especially rewarding for Husain.
"I don't think you could deploy and not have things shape your life," she said. "I always think of one very young Soldier I had as a patient when I first got there. It makes you not complain the bathroom down the hall isn't working or how far you have to walk from the parking lot. And it makes you grow professionally. You can see what you could do when faced with a lot of chaos."
<i>Editor's note: This is a part of a series of stories featuring West Point women warriors as part of the Army's celebration of 30 years of an integrated service. President Carter signed legislation in 1978 that disbanded the Women's Army Corps and created one team.</i>