Serving Military Medicine
Arguing that it's cheaper to train military doctors in civilian schools, cost cutters have often ignored USU's unique capabilities. It took bold leadership for USU's former president, James Zimble, to marshal bipartisan congressional support to defeat the Clinton administration's several attempts, most recently in 1997, to close the university. Had the 1997 plan succeeded, USU would have graduated its last class in 2001 and closed its doors entirely three weeks after 9/11. Who would have noticed? Yet the country would have lost capabilities important to current war efforts and the kind of expertise that should help civilians find better ways to prevent the medical chaos that reigned in New Orleans after Katrina.
We would have lost something else: a spirit that's well captured in a USU military history lecture about Lewis Heermann. A prominent Navy surgeon in the early 1800s, he refused to be held back from an expedition because it was too dangerous. He replied, "My life, sir, is no more valuable than that of any other brave officer." In the film, one can see and hear explosions in the distance surrounding the bleak terrain at Balad air base and military hospital in Iraq. A USU physician acknowledges that he has already experienced at least 100 mortar attacks in his short time there but shrugs off his own fearas if to say that his life is no more valuable than the lives of the patients he cares for.