From Civilian 'Scrubs' to ACUs
Lt. Col. David McKee, an otolaryngologist at Moncrief Army Community Hospital, examines the ear canal of Staff Sgt. Jeffried Apodaca, Chaplain Center and School. McKee joined the Army Reserve last year at the age of 52.

At a time when most men his age would be considering retiring from the military, Dr. David McKee, an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat) at Moncrief Army Community Hospital, did the opposite.

At the age of 52 he joined the U.S. Army Reserve. After 16 years of private practice and four years of working as a civilian at MACH, McKee said he was looking for a new challenge.

"Now I can focus on just being a doctor -- I don't have to run an office, I don't have to worry about hiring and firing," he said.

When he made the decision to don the uniform, McKee said the reactions were mixed among his colleagues.

"Those who knew me from private practice questioned what I was doing," he said. "They asked, 'Why would a successful surgeon up and leave that environment and the financial advantages to come over where those advantages don't exist and I could end up going to war''"

McKee said the attitude of the staff at MACH was just the opposite. "People were impressed I would do such a thing to begin with," he said. "No one thought I was crazy. Most people respected the decision."

He knows that as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, it is very likely he will be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. McKee said that possibility did not deter him from joining, but rather was something he considered a positive.

"Right now they count heavily on Reserve Soldiers, especially those in the medical corps. It (deployment) would be a worthwhile endeavor. I'd like to be able to share my skills. I'm a little bit adventuresome, and would find it a challenge," he said. "For me it's a good choice and rounds out my life as a physician."

McKee said he is exploring the possibility of attending airborne and air assault school. His adventure seeking isn't limited to the military. He also plans to climb Mount Everest in the near future.

Page last updated Fri April 6th, 2007 at 13:35