Skip to main content

The Military Faces of Neurosurgery

debGuest Post from Deborah L. Benzil, MD, FACS, FAANS
Vice President, AANS
Chair, AANS/CNS Communications and Public Relations Committee
MKMG
Columbia University Medical Center
Mt Kisco, New York

For the past year, we have regularly shown the many Faces of Neurosurgery. We have featured many wonderful stories that exemplify the courage, dedication, ingenuity and generosity of so many of our specialty. Today, fittingly on Memorial Day, we are launching a new component of this feature which is near and dear to many hearts: The Military Faces of Neurosurgery.

COL. Rocco A. Armonda, MD, FAANS (Ret.) speaking to COL. James M. Ecklund, MD, FAANS (Ret.)

COL. Rocco A. Armonda, MD, FAANS (Ret.) speaking to COL. James M. Ecklund, MD, FAANS (Ret.)

Neurosurgeons have fulfilled a crucial service need of the military, serving to perform needed medical and surgical intervention for soldiers and civilians ravaged by the effects of armed conflicts. These individuals have made enormous sacrifices by:

  • Delaying their surgical or neurosurgical training;
  • Leaving their families and practices for prolonged periods of time, often with little-advanced notice;
  • Being frequently transferred to meet the needs of home bases; and
  • Exposing them to physical and mental harm.

The Military Faces of Neurosurgery will be a regular feature of Neurosurgery Blog, saluting a special subset of neurosurgeons — these unsung heroes who remain unknown to much of the world.

Our first feature is one you won’t want to miss. Later this week, you can read the moving story of two leaders in neurosurgery —Stan Pelofsky, MD, FAANS and Patrick J. Kelly, MD, FAANS  — during their tours in the Vietnam Conflict. While we will briefly introduce their story, the highlight will be Dr. Kelly’s Richard C. Schneider Lecture, which stunned the audience at the 2002 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting. For those in the audience that day, this extraordinary story was a touchstone, nothing short of amazing in its quality, honesty, depth, and breadth. For years, it was thought that this powerful presentation was lost, as there was no video recording completed at that time. However, through the generosity and foresight of Dr. Pelofsky, this talk can now reach is deserved audience: the world!

LCDR Stacy Quintero Wolfe, MD (Ret.)

LCDR Stacy Quintero Wolfe, MD (Ret.)

Others have also recognized the value of our military neurosurgeons and the extraordinary stressors on them. Both the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons have extended special benefits to these individuals to try and defray the impact (see boxes below). We applaud these efforts! No one ever wants to go to war or to experience the fallout that inevitably comes with armed conflict. But too often, there is no choice, and we are grateful that there are neurosurgeons who have made the sacrifice and are available for those in the greatest need.

 

mil

Leave a Reply