By Capt. Robert Taylor, Idaho Army National GuardJune 11, 2019
FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- Col. Andrew Thayne joined the U.S. Army after college to pay for medical school. He joined the Idaho Army National Guard almost two decades later because he missed the camaraderie he found serving in the military.
"To me, the National Guard is the best of both worlds," Thayne said. "One weekend a month, I put my uniform on and do the things I've been training to do for 24 years."
One weekend a month Thayne serves the Idaho Army National Guard as the state surgeon, the state's senior medical provider. The other days of the month he serves the people of Pocatello as a family physician at InterMountain Medical Clinic.
Thayne said he has always been interested in medicine and how the body works. His mother attended nursing school when he was a teenager. He enjoyed hearing her stories from school and work and knew by the time he was in high school he wanted to pursue a career in medicine.
After high school, he studied at Brigham Young University. In 1990 he joined the U.S. Army and attended medical school at the Uniformed Services School of Medicine, where the Army paid him to attend medical school. After a three-year residency, he spent seven years working as a doctor to fulfill his service obligation to the military.
While at BYU, he met his wife, Melissa. After he left the Army in 2004 the couple moved to Pocatello, where Melissa is from and the couple still lives with their six children. He spent the next five years building his medical practice with his partner before deciding to join the Idaho Army National Guard in 2010.
"I missed being with other Army doctors and taking care of Soldiers," he said.
As the state surgeon and medical adviser to the Idaho Army National Guard commander, Thayne oversees the state's medical readiness program. He works with a team of military providers, Soldiers and civilians with the goal of keeping 90 percent of the state's Soldiers medically ready to deploy if called upon to assist in a state emergency or perform their wartime missions.
Thayne, and the state's entire medical support staff, recently worked to ensure 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers were medically ready to attend the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.
While at the National Training Center, Soldiers are participating in a month-long large-scale training exercise against opposing forces provided by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment to build unit readiness and increase Soldier proficient in their wartime missions.
Thayne is providing medical support for the exercise's administrative team and caring for injured 116th CBCT Soldiers at the Weed Army Community Hospital on Fort Irwin.
More than 1,800 Soldiers, from 137 Idaho communities, participated in the state's largest deployment since 2015. The 116th CBCT is headquartered in Boise with armories in almost two dozen Idaho communities. The brigade is also comprised of battalions from the Montana, Nevada, and Oregon Army National Guards. Units from an additional nine Army National Guard states bring the brigade's combat power to more than 4,000 Soldiers throughout the exercise.
Thayne has deployed twice throughout his career. He participated in a peace-keeping mission to Bosnia in 1999 and deployed to Afghanistan with the New York National Guard in 2012.
"The Army is a mission-focused organization," Thayne said. "Everyone has a common goal. We work together to complete a mission and its satisfying."