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Reflections
February 2003

A Gift to Heal

Author Affiliations
 

WILLIAM J.RICHTSMEIERMD, PhD

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003;129(2):161. doi:10.1001/archotol.129.2.161

WHEN, as a 25-year-old intern during the Vietnam War, I received an invitation to accept a commission into the US Army Medical Corps Reserve, I eagerly signed. I had been advised to do so, or risk being drafted into service without a commission. Little did I understand the full terms of the agreement, but I remained hopeful that the Berry Plan deferment would allow me to complete my otolaryngology residency, to which I had already been formally accepted. Months later I learned that, by lottery, I was not among the fortunate and that 2 years of active duty would necessarily precede specialty training. A state of war carries many uncertainties, but few of us allowed the broken path of our postgraduate education to threaten dreams and aspirations. In some way, the prospect of an important interruption strengthened our resolve to continue after service to our nation.

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