By Sgt. Jason Kemp, 1st Inf Div, USD-S PAOJuly 2, 2010
COB BASRA, Iraq -- Soldiers are known for performing under pressure, but even the hard chargers needs someplace to turn when the going gets tough.
That's where Maj. Scott Williams, the United States Division-South and 1st Infantry Division psychiatrist, helps them shoulder their burden.
"He is the subject matter expert in the Army's top priority right now, which is behavioral health," Sgt. Jose Carrera, Behavioral Health Specialist, Operations Company, Division Headquarters Battalion, 1st Infantry Division said. "He is a driven guy, ambitious."
That drive and ambition has been with Williams since he was a child.
"I have wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember," said Williams. "My mother tells a somewhat embarrassing story of me strapping a first aid kit on the back of my first bike and riding around the neighborhood looking for people to patch up."
Williams was born in Bournemouth, England, near where the 1st Infantry Division deployed from in support of D-Day during World War II. The Williams' moved to Princeton, N.J., when he was young and he attended high school there.
"I learned about the idea of ROTC in high school and applied for the Army ROTC scholarship, all the while knowing that my eventual career goal was going to be a physician, and I wanted to do that in the military."
While he was going to college to become a doctor, Williams served on active duty and attended the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU).
"During my second year of medical school, we actually watched the 9/11 attack on our large lecture room screen," said Williams. "Having gone to school in Bethesda, Md., we were only a few miles from the Pentagon, so most of us went to the Bethesda Naval Hospital to see how we could help."
The attack on the World Trade Center solidified Williams' resolve to help Soldiers in need.
"Most of my military medical training, therefore, was post 9/11, and I've had the privilege of caring for hundreds of wounded warriors at Walter Reed Hospital as an internal medicine physician as well as a psychiatrist," Williams said. "Going in to work during the early hours of the morning, it was inspiring beyond words to see the wounded warriors running outside around our track on prosthetic limbs.
"That kind of dedication makes it easy to put in the extra hours to make sure the proper care is delivered."
Williams has two degrees: a doctorate in psychiatric medicine and a doctorate of internal medicine.
"He's one of the smartest people I've ever met," Carrera said.
Williams deployed to Iraq as the division's psychiatrist. His wife, Jeannie, the head nurse of the cancer ward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., stayed behind and plans to catch up with him when he returns.
"Coming from a large hospital to an infantry division was a bit of a culture shock," Williams said. "Despite a relatively steep learning curve regarding policies and procedures, it has been rewarding. The professionalism that the Soldiers, NCOs and officers demonstrate on a daily basis is quite inspiring."
Williams aspires to create programs within the 1st Infantry Division and the Army that better care for Soldiers mental health and well-being.
"The Behavioral Health Training Program we are implementing across USD-S and back at Fort Riley will take a while to establish, but it should pay great dividends," Williams said. "We will not see the full impact that this protracted war has taken on our servicemen for decades, and it's important that the leadership instill a sense of trust and confidence in their formations that the medical professionals are always ready to stand by to support them."