Gratitude for the Privilege of Service
Author: Jeffrey M. Tomlin, MD
As an active duty neurosurgeon with an extended career of military service, it has been my greatest privilege to provide care for the Sailors, Soldiers, Airman and Marines across time, distance and conflict. Duty has called me to destinations around the world and beneath the seas of the North Atlantic, at nearly every echelon of care that Navy Medicine establishes, to provide treatment for the injured as well as peace of mind for the ones they all leave at home to defend our nation.
Combat care has provided a purity of commitment to our fellow citizens which no traditional practice can duplicate, and it is this sacred privilege which pulls many to step forward and join the military to bring their skills. Both our battle wounded and garrison stricken patients beckon us as military physicians with a siren’s call we cannot avoid.
During these years, the unique complexities of military neurosurgery have brought profound professional pride and challenge, even while away from the comforts of home and family for extended periods. This is however, the essence of the military physician, to be fundamentally guided by the needs of our patients within the environments into which we are sent. The persistent threat of terrorism has shaped our medical force and demanded agility at times, and as we strive to remain ready for the future, we must again pivot our point of aim. Those around the world who seek to take our freedom remain on notice from a cadre of committed, determined physicians, nurses and corpsmen who stand beside our warfighting brothers and sisters.
Along the spectrum of military medical evacuation, I have had the further privilege to provide care to our military personnel long after their injuries, through unique veterans service organizations, giving my time to various outdoor and adventure clinics as well as within small group performance initiative curriculum delivery. The impact on these deserving patients’ lives has been immeasurable as they navigate their transition toward a new story beyond their military. In many ways, these experiences have become Echelon Six, a level of care and commitment to my patients well beyond their military tours, but the value given to lives redirected towards new purpose has given me back far more energy than I could have envisioned, and resulted in sustained meaningful relationships which are strengthened whenever two or three are gathered to tell new tales.
I am grateful for the privilege of a career of service to the citizens of the United States and the countries to which I have been deployed to provide the best medical care in their time of greatest need. As my military service approaches transition, I strive to bring the same passion to our citizens at large in greatest need here at home as well.
The views expressed in this profile are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, nor the U.S. Government.