Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Separation From My Family & Absence From My Practice

I have never been away from my family for more than a week. My wife and I do not take separate vacations and we are not having marital problems. In addition to the very long hours I work, Joan also works more than full-time and we are a very busy household. I don't manage as many domestic things as Joan does and although I'm not indispensable there are several things that I'm responsible for that Joan is going to have a hard time keeping up with when I leave.

I feel that I'm close to my three children, two of whom are young adults and I try to always be there for my youngest child, Julia who is 16 years old and I love her dearly. I do work very long hours and when I do take time off, being with my children, especially Julia, is always my number one priority.

Yes I do like to travel and I'm not an especially anxious person but deploying to Iraq is completely out of the ball park compared to anything else I've ever done. It is also totally out of character for me as a husband and a father. I also have a mother who is 92 and several of my relatives and my in-laws are elderly.

I'm a Family Practitioner in solo practice and I had to create a coverage system for the next 120 days. Army pay doesn't even come close to what I presently earn andf the overhead expenses for my office continue whether I'm in the office or in Iraq and I could go on and on with reasons not to do this.

I will miss my family enormously and my absence from them has already started and it is profound. Even without a National Guard commitment my typical day is anything but routine and generally every day seems to have more than one major crisis. My practice is busier than ever and I can't thank my office staff enough for the amount of work this is putting them through. I will also never forget the Physicians & Nurse Practitioner that have stepped forward and will be coming to my office to see my patients as well as the Administrators from other practices that have helped me recruit my coverage. I'm also thankful to the many physicians who have offered to help in the future if I need more coverage. I'm actually now forming a Medical Coverage Reserve Force and I'll try to orient these providers now. They'll be kept on a reserve status for now but I think the chances are high that they will be called up to serve in my office before this is over.

The patients seem confident and many of them are actually quite proud to be inconvenienced by their doctor being sent to Iraq. After all their country is involved in two wars and they want to do their part.

There is no simple answer that explains my motivations and my reasons for enlisting and thereby subjecting my family, my patients and myself to so many hardships. The amount of planning that I've had to put into this has been quite enormous.

On the other hand there is a very simple explanation for my decision which should be obvious to anyone who has read this entry or any of my previous entries.

Why have you wished me well and told Joan that you hope to keep in touch with her and help her out? You and I have many different interests that we don't even bother to share but essentially everybody I know seems to want to know more about my deployment. The extent of your interest has taken me by surprise and I now see that people are asking for more and more information and the answer is not simply because you like me or because this deployment is so special.

I have come to realize that whether or not we discuss it, all of us (except perhaps the hardcore apathetic and self-centered) are deeply concerned about our countries struggles. Who among us has not been traumatized by the casualties of our brave soldiers, all volunteers, who we all love dearly. Somewhere in our hearts all of us have to recognize, that regardless of ones politics, the burden of the War on Terrorism should not fall so heavily on one group of citizens who get deployed again and again, while the rest of us are completely untouched. Your constant requests for more information, that Joan is asked to relay to me, is not just about me. It's also about your own connection to our soldiers and your hope that they get the best services, including medical services, when they sadly become casualties.

I think that if your looking for an answer to your question of why I decided to leave my family and everything else behind and go to a place like Iraq, start to think of how deeply you have been impacted by the the thousands of casualties we have suffered since 09/11. If you can recognize your own connection to these events and it's impact on you I'm sure that you will have a good understanding of my decision.


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