"one front and one battle": Civilian professional medical support of military surgeons

Matthew J. Martin, Joseph J. Dubose*, Carlos Rodriguez, Warren C. Dorlac, Greg J. Beilman, Todd E. Rasmussen, Donald H. Jenkins, John B. Holcomb, Basil A. Pruitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In every war and conflict throughout the history of the United States, dedicated medical professionals have been there to provide care for our wounded warriors, civilians, and even enemy combatants.5 In earlier conflicts, such as WorldWar II, these soldier doctors were pulled from their civilian posts to serve during times of war, and then return to civilian life. Since that time, the US military has developed a dedicated corps of physicians, nurses, and health care personnel who serve full-time in uniform during both times of peace and in wartime. One of the most critical groups during combat operations are the surgeons who provide emergency and trauma care in a continuum from the forward battlefield to the rear-echelon level 4 and 5 military medical centers. The military as a professional force has seen major and radical changes during the past several decades. Arguably the most influential factor in the development of the modern military was the termination of the draft in 1973. The resultant all-volunteer force of approximately 1.5 million service members presently has been able to achieve superior levels of cohesiveness, readiness, and professionalism. However, an often discussed byproduct of an all-volunteer military is the increasing sense of isolation and alienation of service members from their civilian counterparts, and vice versa.With < 10% of all civilians having any previous military service, and < 0.5% of citizens currently serving in the military, it is not surprising that feelings of isolation and lack of support can arise in military-civilian relationships. However, among military surgeons and their civilian counterparts, the exact opposite phenomenon has been observed during the past decade of combat operations. As detailed here, the civilian surgical community, organizations, and professional societies have consistently gone above and beyond expectations to support the training, development, and capabilities of military physicians and surgeons. During the past 10 years of sustained combat operations, the military and civilian surgical communities have banded together as one tight-knit and cohesive group with a strong sense of mutual respect, teamwork, and esprit de corps. This shared vision has allowed for an unprecedented level of exchange of ideas, information, and scientific advances in the field of trauma and emergency surgical care, both on the battlefield and on the homefront. As military surgeons, we give our deepest level of thanks and gratitude for the generosity and support of our civilian colleagues and organizations, who we believe stand toe-totoe with us no matter when or where the battle takes us.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-437
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • AAST
  • ABA
  • ACS
  • American Association for the Surgery of Trauma
  • American Burn Association
  • American College of Surgeons
  • COT
  • Committee on Trauma
  • EAST
  • Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma
  • JOT
  • Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery


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