Illinois Gastroenterologist Volunteers for War Zone Service at 44

August 18, 2010

Aaron Greenspan, MD created the only in-theater gastroenterology service in Afghanistan, but had to fight through red tape for 17 months to get there.

Here’s an inspiring story for you this morning.

BDN.com recounts the story of Illinois gastroenterologist Aaron Greenspan, MD who decided, in his early 40s with no military experience, to join the Air Force Reserves and volunteer for war zone service.

While on vacation in Mexico, Dr. Greenspan thought, “I should be standing up and doing something for all these kids putting their lives on the line for us every day.” Though he had to “force his way through red tape and federal rules” for 17 months, he eventually received his commission and deployed to Afghanistan for two months, an experience he called “one of the most rewarding things [he’s] ever done.”

Lt. Col. Camille Looney, the commander of the 451st Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility where Greenspan was assigned, said in a letter that Greenspan “created the only in-theater gastroenterology service” which helped keep 25 soldiers in the field and saved “$100,000 in aerovac costs.”

"It was a transformative experience - very sobering but rewarding," Greenspan said. "These kids are getting hurt and I had the privilege of taking care of them. "You really learn how amazing our military is. Everybody is very positive and it's amazing they can be so professional under these conditions."

If you, like Dr. Greenspan, have answered the call to service, let us know by writing to bschmidt@mdng.com; we’d love to recount your experiences here. Who knows? Your story might just inspire others to do the same.