Major Mary Krueger, Colonel Jeff Johnson
Major Mary Krueger: I'm Major Mary Krueger. I'm the Assistant Residency Director at Womack Army Medical Center for the family medicine residency program at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I have the opportunity of having a very multi-faceted job where I can be a physician one day, be a residency staff the other day and then be a soldier.
When I was deployed in Afghanistan in 2003, I was a Deputy Surgeon of Civil Affairs for the last four months of that deployment and we worked with the Afghan government to improve their health system and also to work with the military to make sure we could do our best providing these humanitarian assistance missions for-- for the Afghan people. And we wanted to educate them about threats in their community, about hand washing, about malaria, about mine awareness. And so in that way we tried to make it something that would be more sustainable, that we would leave something behind that eventually these communities would be self-sustaining.
Colonel Jeff Johnson, Residency Director: Major Krueger's experience in Afghanistan clearly relates back to the training environment. She's able to show the humanity side of what the-- what a U.S. soldier does. That's showing a different side than patching up our wounded, which is the traditional wartime experience.
Major Mary Krueger: Because we're in this post-9/11 world and it is a new set of skills, a new mission, that we're asking our army physicians to complete, we're looking at how can we help them to do that effectively. And so when a group of us came back from Afghanistan, came back from Iraq, and started asking the questions about trauma the answer was we all felt that we could do better. And in answer to that, we've started working on this trauma rotation, which I hope is just the beginning.
In Afghanistan I was working with women and children and, really, that's the same thing I do in my job back here. A soldier may be the person that goes forth with the military, but the entire family is military. And so while my job is as a military physician to preserve the fighting strength of troops, another way to do that-- and a big way we do that-- is by caring for the families. And so our number one job is to take care of those soldiers, whether it's by taking care of their cold today or making sure their children have the appropriate immunizations.
Colonel Jeff Johnson: Those experiences that she's had, those abilities that she's had to touch other people's lives clearly epitomizes what family medicine is all about, not only in the United States but across our world spectrum.
Major Mary Krueger: When I was in the tents with the women in Afghanistan and realizing everything that they had been through and realizing their resiliency, I felt like I was the one that was privileged to be in their presence. When I was in Mazar-e-Sharif, one of the northern towns, and actually teaching side by side with some of the Afghan physicians and teaching women, I felt very privileged because these are women who had persevered. I mean, we talk about it being tough to get into medical school, but these were women who had, under the threat of harm and even death at times, continued with their studies and continued with their perseverance to learn so that they could take care of women in their own culture. So I feel like I've gained a lot more from my patients, many times certainly, than they've gained from me.