Ensuring trained and ready medical forces, particularly combat trauma surgeons, is critical to support our Soldiers and other service personnel in combat. Army Medicine is using individual critical task lists, centrally managing trauma surgery personnel and assets, and building military-civilian partnerships with civilian level I trauma centers to ensure Army Medicine surgeons are getting the experience needed for battlefield surgery.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Ensuring trained and ready medical forces, particularly combat trauma surgeons, is critical to support our Soldiers and other service personnel in combat. Army Medicine is using individual critical task lists, centrally managing trauma surgery personnel and assets, and building military-civilian partnerships with civilian level I trauma centers to ensure Army Medicine surgeons are getting the experience needed for battlefield surgery. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Ronald Wolf) VIEW ORIGINAL
Army Col. (Dr.) Pedro Lucero, assistant deputy commander for clinical services and former chief of the Pulmonary Disease Service, examines Jeannette Haygood, his patient since 2002, at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Aug. 19, 2015. “He left for another assignment several years ago and when he came back, I was there on his doorstep,” Haygood recalled. “I truly believe if it wasn’t for Dr. Lucero … I wouldn’t be here right now.”
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Army Col. (Dr.) Pedro Lucero, assistant deputy commander for clinical services and former chief of the Pulmonary Disease Service, examines Jeannette Haygood, his patient since 2002, at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Aug. 19, 2015. “He left for another assignment several years ago and when he came back, I was there on his doorstep,” Haygood recalled. “I truly believe if it wasn’t for Dr. Lucero … I wouldn’t be here right now.” (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Corey Toye) VIEW ORIGINAL
Army Col. (Dr.) Douglas Soderdahl, BAMC’s deputy commander for acute care, checks in with his longtime patient, Frank Samas, while Janet Schadee, urology and oncology clinical nurse, looks on in the Urology Department at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Aug. 11, 2015. Samas has rave reviews for his doctor. “He’s the best doctor here,” he said, “and that’s no lie.”
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Army Col. (Dr.) Douglas Soderdahl, BAMC’s deputy commander for acute care, checks in with his longtime patient, Frank Samas, while Janet Schadee, urology and oncology clinical nurse, looks on in the Urology Department at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Aug. 11, 2015. Samas has rave reviews for his doctor. “He’s the best doctor here,” he said, “and that’s no lie.” (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Lori Newman) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON — Only 43 days separate the creations of the Continental Army that was formed by the original 13 American colonies and the Army Medical Corps. That short period of time speaks to the importance the corps plays in the mission of the Army.

Several current and former Medical Corps officers shared their thoughts on the corps, their careers and providing health care.

“Military medicine is invaluable to the security of this nation,” said retired Maj. Gen. Jeff Clark, former chief of the Medical Corps. “We in the Medical Corps are a part of an overall team that together is able to provide world-class health care.”

Since July 27, 1775, Medical Corps officers, previously referred to as surgeons, have provided a continuity of care to veterans, military members and their families.

Today, more than 4,000 physicians form a corps of 40 specialties in three main areas: operational, clinical and research medicine. These Soldiers do everything from surgery to vaccine research to delivering babies.

Helping service members bring new life into the world is where Lt. Col. Haroon Samar, family physician, got his start.

As a resident at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center on Fort Cavazos, he helped a young military family during the pregnancy of their first child. The couple trusted him so much they asked him again to help deliver their second son a year later.

“It was really an important time for me to be truly appreciative of the opportunity to be a part of such big moments in their lives,” he said. “I think those moments left an impression on me because I realized just how much trust these young families and these Soldiers put in me. I did my best to learn and grow from that and be as good a doctor as I could be.”

Army physicians go through years of medical school and training to take care of patients. The amount of work can be demanding, but can also fuel their passion.

“I loved everything about it,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Polfer of her time on surgery rotation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “The long hours didn’t bother me because I enjoyed everything I was doing.”

Medical Corps officers enter service at the rank of captain and can take many paths in their careers. They can stay in a specialty field or bounce around between different areas.

An Army physician looks after a patient.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – An Army physician looks after a patient. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Jason W Edwards) VIEW ORIGINAL
WATERTOWN, N.Y. – Capt. Heather Irobunda (left), an obstetrics physician with the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Fort Drum, N.Y., works with a labor and delivery nurse from the Samaritan Medical Center to control the bleeding of a simulated patient during an emergency preparedness training scenario in Watertown, N.Y. June 7.  Obstetrics and gynecology health care professionals from Fort Drum work side by side with their civilian counterparts at Samaritan to provide pregnancy, labor and delivery care to Fort Drum service members and their families.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – WATERTOWN, N.Y. – Capt. Heather Irobunda (left), an obstetrics physician with the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, Fort Drum, N.Y., works with a labor and delivery nurse from the Samaritan Medical Center to control the bleeding of a simulated patient during an emergency preparedness training scenario in Watertown, N.Y. June 7. Obstetrics and gynecology health care professionals from Fort Drum work side by side with their civilian counterparts at Samaritan to provide pregnancy, labor and delivery care to Fort Drum service members and their families. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Warren Wright) VIEW ORIGINAL
Maj. Bonnie Jordan, a physician assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, examines her patient, Arthur Wasson, on Nov. 28. Jordan was recently awarded the Military Health System's Female Physician Leadership Award for her dedication and work to sick and injured Soldiers of the Fort Carson Warrior Transition Battalion. Jordan renovated several processes WTB Soldiers participate in to help them heal or transition to civilian life, as well as her guidance to their family members and her dedication to mentoring fellow physicians.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Bonnie Jordan, a physician assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, examines her patient, Arthur Wasson, on Nov. 28. Jordan was recently awarded the Military Health System's Female Physician Leadership Award for her dedication and work to sick and injured Soldiers of the Fort Carson Warrior Transition Battalion. Jordan renovated several processes WTB Soldiers participate in to help them heal or transition to civilian life, as well as her guidance to their family members and her dedication to mentoring fellow physicians. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by John Wayne Liston ) VIEW ORIGINAL

Clinical medicine provides care on military installations. Operational medicine supports Soldiers in the field, while academic and research medicine focuses on education, training and research at Army medical centers and laboratories.

This flexibility to pursue different avenues allows Medical Corps officers to gain valuable experience.

“I think that is what the Army continues to do and probably does better than any other job, is to just enrich you with job opportunities for growth development and leadership,” Samar said.

Medical Corps officers have made significant impacts on health care throughout history.

Maj. Jonathan Letterman started the first Ambulance Corps to help wounded Soldiers on the battlefield during the Civil War. Maj. Walter Reed led experiments in the early 1900s that discovered the link between mosquitos and yellow fever. During WWI and WWII, Maj. Gen. Norman T. Kirk organized new treatments for amputees.

In the early 2000s, retired Lt. Gen. James Peake led a study to improve battlefield survivability. The study showed most patients were dying before they reached a hospital from either blood loss or compromised airways.

The study led to increased general training and the creation of the Combat Lifesaver Course where Soldiers learn how to apply tourniquets and insert a common airway.

“Soldiers who receive CLS training are better equipped to provide critical medical care when it’s needed,” said retired Maj. Gen. George Weightman, former chief of the Medical Corps Branch. “Commanders can rest assured that their troops are prepared for any situation that arises.”

While advances in medicine and ways to treat patients continue to evolve, the basic function of the Medical Corps remains the same.

“The privilege of serving two professions simultaneously — arms and medicine — being patient-focused, knowing that’s why we are important to the team, does not change even though the world around us changes and what the Army is asked to do changes,” Clark said. “I think those fundamentals are enduring.”

The Army Medical Department consists of the Medical Corps, Medical Service Corps, Medical Specialist Corps, Veterinary Corps, Army Nurse Corps, Army Dental Corps and the Civilian Corps.

These groups, along with Enlisted Medical Corps, work together as a team to deliver care to patients around the world.

“I came to Army Medicine because the Army gave me a chance to pursue a dream to be a doctor,” Samar said. “I’ve stayed for as long as I have because I got the chance to a part of a wonderful team. That has kept me in this long and I’ll continue serving because the Army continues to surround me with awesome people.”

RELATED LINKS:

Medical Service Corps: 106 years of diverse health service

Former Medical Service Corps chief’s life of service brings joy, passion

From farm to hospital: Former chief of US Army Nurse Corps driven by life's challenges

Army Medical Department, Army Medical Corps celebrate 237 years of faithful service