Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Veterans Day 2012: Honoring Our Heroes

Dr. Sidney Brevard (pictured above), associate professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine, recently spoke at a Veterans Day ceremony at St. Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile. Dr. Brevard retired after 26 years as an Air Force Colonel. 
Veterans Day was this past Sunday - a day we pay tribute to all our veterans living and deceased who gave a part of their life to preserve our country’s freedom.

Many veterans are also our co-workers and friends. One of our very own veterans is Dr. Sidney Brevard, associate professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine, who retired after 26 years as an Air Force colonel.

Dr. Brevard said he decided to join the military as a means of paying for school, but decided to stay because his experiences were extremely rewarding. “For me it was very positive,” he said. “I enjoyed being part of a team on patriotic missions, and that was what made the weeks and months we spent far away from home worthwhile.”

Dr. Brevard, who spoke at a Veterans Day ceremony at St. Paul’s Episcopal School this week, has been deployed multiple times to different countries throughout his career. He has served in various deployments in the Middle East, as well as countries in Africa and Asia. He said it was a challenge being away from his family. “It was tough, but my wife has also served in the Air Force, and she knew part of the relationship was going to be time apart,” he said.

Dr. Brevard said his experience in the military has helped him develop into the surgeon he is today. “I do exactly the same thing now that I was doing in the military,” he said. “I was a trauma surgeon in the field and performed surgery on U.S. and NATO personnel in combat, and now I do the same for citizens of the Gulf Coast that need my help.”

“Veterans Day is about respecting the people that came before us who suffered a much harsher war than we ever have and giving them the respect they deserve for the sacrifices they’ve made for all of us,” Dr. Brevard added.

Mel Leggett (left) and Tommie Carlisle (right)
Another veteran now with the USA Health System is Tommie Carlisle, coordinator for health services operations, who retired after 21 years as an Army master sergeant. “I felt obligated as an American to serve and give back to our country,” he said. “I have a long-standing family history of military, and I felt a calling because this is the greatest country in the world.”

Carlisle said the Army afforded him many opportunities, like training and funding to get a civilian education. “I enjoyed being trained in the field I am in today, and the Army helped me get a couple of degrees and additional training to go with it.”

Carlisle did an array of jobs in the Army. He was a combat medic before he went to school for physical therapy. After that he moved to a managerial field in the department of orthopaedics and surgery, where he gained experience with personnel and finance. He also spent time as an Army recruiter. “I helped a lot of people enhance their own lives as a recruiter, and I was nominated as recruiter of the year because I was able to put in more soldiers than any other in the history of the Army,” he said. “That was something I was very proud of.”

According to Carlisle, Veterans Day is a time that Americans should embrace veterans who go above and beyond to ensure our country’s freedom.

“Americans should stand up and salute the sacrifice that so many men and women have made in the past,” he said. “We as Americans should be grateful that they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend America to the end, because freedom isn’t free. Somewhere along the line someone has paid the price.”

Another of our veterans is Mel Leggett, practice director of internal medicine and neurology at the University of South Alabama, who retired as a colonel after 26 years serving the United States Army.

Leggett said one of the reasons he began his journey at age 19 with an Army ROTC scholarship was because of how he was raised. “My father was a retired Navy officer, so it seemed like an exciting and very interesting career,” he said. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army at age 22.

Leggett was deployed to Korea in 1978, and he said his experience in the Army translated directly to being a health care administrator. “That’s what my job was in the Army,” said Leggett. “It was always interesting, and I was able to live a lot of places and see the world.”

In his eyes, Veterans Day is a day of reflection. “It is a day that Americans should reflect on what it takes to be free,” he said.

Dr. Clare Carney
Dr. Clare Carney, a resident physician at USA and a captain in the Army National Guard, has served for three years, and she is very proud of her accomplishments so far.

“I always thought about joining the service because my father and brother were in the military,” she said. “I really liked the guard because they are involved in national relief projects here at home.”

Dr. Carney said that the guard helped her pay for her student loans and assisted her funding for medical training. She is in the medical field in the guard as well, and provides health care for local soldiers. “It is a different perspective on the Army side, but the whole experience has been wonderful and exciting,” she said.

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