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american flagThe UAB Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery has a unique connection with the military. Twelve faculty members are either veterans or active duty military.

Many trauma surgeons will spend years of their career in the military, treating service members on the battlefield facing injuries like gunshot wounds, loss of limbs, or blunt force trauma to the head. But traumatic injuries happen in civilian life, too, caused by car crashes, falls, gun violence, or natural disasters, to name a few examples. Since UAB has a Level 1 Trauma Center, it sees some of the most severely injured patients from across Alabama and even neighboring states. 

"We have a lot of military veterans on our faculty which I think greatly enhances our perspectives on trauma care and the training experience for our residents and fellows,” said Jeffrey Kerby, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, Director of the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

With its high volume of trauma patients, UAB's Trauma Center is not only an ideal environment to utilize the experience of former combat surgeons, but also to train current Air Force surgeons and ensure their trauma skills stay sharp when they are in-between deployments. Hence the development of an innovative military-civilian partnership with the Air Force Special Operations Command: the Special Operations Surgical Team (SOST), which has been based out of UAB since 2010. The SOST surgeons also serve as UAB faculty. 

“UAB has had a long and sustained relationship with the U.S. military through our military-civilian partnership with the United States Air Force," said Kerby. "This is mutually beneficial as they are able to maintain their expertise in trauma care when not deployed by working in a high volume, high acuity civilian trauma center and we learn from their experience working in austere, resource limited environments. They also bring cutting edge technology from the battlefield that are directly applicable to our civilian trauma patients." 

Below, meet the veterans and active duty service members that bring their unique military expertise with them as they guide the trainees and serve the patients of UAB. And don't forget to thank a veteran today for their service.

Get to know our Veterans

The Air Force Special Operations Surgical Team (SOST) surgeons based out of UAB

The Air Force Special Operations Surgical Team (SOST) surgeons based out of UAB

Currently five SOST surgeons are with the UAB Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: Jacob Anderson, D.O., FACS; Aaron Beckwith, M.D.; Nathan Manley, M.D., M.S., MPH; David M. Northern, M.D., FACS; and Omar Rokayak, D.O., FACS.

Daniel B. Cox, M.D.

Daniel B. Cox, M.D.

Role at UAB: Chief of UAB's Trauma Service and Associate Professor in the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery

Rank in military: Lieutenant Colonel, Air Force

Served in: Afghanistan, Global War on Terror, Operation Enduring Freedom

Years of service: 2010 to current

Daniel B. Cox, M.D., was deployed as a Trauma Czar and Chief of Surgery to Bagram, Afghanistan. He was deployed twice as a Critical Care Air Transport physician, transporting critically ill patients from combat theatres to Europe and the U.S. He also served in two deployments supporting the White House Medical Unit, providing support for the President in Africa and the Caribbean. He served as the Medical Director for En Route Care providing medical leadership to the U.S. Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation System. Cox is currently in the U.S. Air Force Reserves on staff at Air Mobility Command, Office of the Command Surgeon.

Are there any awards or honors you'd like to highlight? "Three Meritorious Service Medals and the State Department Meritorious Service Award."

What aspects of your military career do you bring with you to work as a UAB employee? "Being a deployed military trauma surgeon gave me exposure to very complex injury patterns often not seen in civilian trauma. Learning to effectively manage these injuries in the deployed setting made me a better trauma/critical care surgeon and the lessons learned in those experiences translate in the care I now deliver as a civilian surgeon."

John B. Holcomb, M.D., FACS

John B. Holcomb, M.D., FACS

Role at UAB: professor with the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery

Rank in military: Colonel, Army

Years of service: 1985-2008

John B. Holcomb, M.D., began his medical journey when the military paid for his medical school through the Health Professions Scholarship Program. He subsequently served 23 years. He received the Bronze Star when he operated on the wounded during the Battle of Mogadishu, the inspiration of the movie Black Hawk Down. Through leadership, advocacy, and clinical trials research, Holcomb has been instrumental in improving the care and outcomes for America's wounded service members.

Are there any awards or honors you'd like to highlight? "I was deployed with the Joint Special Operations Command for a decade."

What aspects of your military career do you bring with you to work as a UAB employee? "Understanding the roles of leaders and mentors."

Jan Jansen, MBBS, Ph.D., FRCS

Jan Jansen, MBBS, Ph.D., FRCS

Role at UAB: Professor; Associate Vice Chair for Clinical Trials; Director of Research, Division of Trauma & Acute Care Surgery; and Director of the UAB Center for Injury Science (CIS)

Rank in military: Lieutenant Colonel, British Army

Served in:  Afghanistan

Years of service: 1994-1998 and 2002-2017

Jan Jansen, MBBS, Ph.D, FRCS, joined the reserves as an infantry soldier in the Parachute Regiment. He was transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps but remained with the Airborne Forces.

Are there any awards or honors you'd like to highlight?  "I was awarded a Queens Commendation for Valuable Service (Mention in Dispatches) for my work in Afghanistan in 2008."

What aspects of your military career do you bring with you to work as a UAB employee? "That we are all part of a team, and that we must succeed."

Jeffrey Kerby, M.D., Ph.D., FACS

Jeffrey Kerby, M.D., Ph.D., FACS

Role at UAB: Director of the Division of Trauma & Acute Care Surgery and the Brigham Family Endowed Professor in Trauma and Acute Care Surgery

Rank in military: Lieutenant Colonel, Air Force

Served in: Operation Enduring Freedom

Years of service: 1999-2003

Jeffrey Kerby, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, was stationed at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. A main focus of his practice was trauma care, as Wilford Hall was a Level 1 Trauma Center that cared for civilian trauma patients in the San Antonio area. "We also created Mobile Forward Surgical Teams (MFST) while I was in San Antonio," Kerby said. These 5 person teams could transport everything needed to create an operating room in backpacks. "This made it easy for us to deploy early in a small footprint and provide surgical support for critical missions." Kerby deployed with one of these teams in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002. These teams were the precursors to the current Special Operations Surgical Teams (SOST) that are now stationed at UAB. 

What are you most proud of in your military career? "It gives me a great sense of pride that I have been able to continue to support the military mission even after leaving active duty military service. Building the military-civilian partnership at UAB and seeing it flourish and grow has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career."

Loring W. Rue, M.D.

Loring W. Rue, M.D.

Role at UAB: Chief Medical Officer of the UAB Health System

Served in: Gulf War

Loring W. Rue, M.D., served as a staff surgeon in the U.S. Army Medical Corps at the Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He was a burn team leader during the 1991 Gulf War.

Jon Winkler, M.D., Ph.D., FACS

Jon Winkler, M.D., Ph.D., FACS

Role at UAB: Assistant Professor

Rank in military: Lieutenant Colonel, Air Force

Served in: Afghanistan

Years of service: 11 years, including 6 years with SOST

Jon Winkler, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, joined the United States Air Force while in medical school and completed residency at Wright State University/Wright Patterson Air Force Base in general surgery in 2007. For the next 6 years, Winkler served in the Air Force with the Special Operations Surgical Teams (SOST). His last 3 years in the Air Force were spent serving as the detachment commander of the first Special Operations Surgical Team stationed at UAB. He has been deployed multiple times.

How do you think military experience helps you as a civilian surgeon/in your civilian career? "Military, and particularly special operations medicine, utilizes a team approach. It teaches to trust those you are working with and divide up the responsibilities in order to achieve the best outcome. Applying this to civilian practice helps to tear down some of the barriers between specialties."

James K. Wright, M.D., FACS

James K. Wright, M.D., FACS

Role at UAB: Clinical Assistant Professor

Rank in military: Colonel, Air Force

Served in: Cold War, El Salvador Civil War, Operation Northern Watch, Operation Southern Watch, War on Terror

Years of service: 28 years

James K. Wright, M.D., FACS, has had many roles in the Air Force. He has been: a plastic surgeon at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, the Chief of Plastic Surgery at Wilford Hall Medical Center, the Chief of Hyperbaric Medicine Research at Brooks Air Force Base, and a Special Tactics surgeon. He completed his fellowship in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. Upon retiring after 28 years of service, Wright became a hyperbaric and wound care physician in Washington State before coming to UAB.

Are there any awards or honors you'd like to highlight? Air Force Physician of the Year (2001), Air Force Chief of Staff Excellence Award (2007), started the Air Force Pararescue Training Program at UAB with Dr. Kerby in 2006 which later became the SOST. 

What are you most proud of in your military career? "Serving my country and helping others was an honor and blessing. Veterans are proud to be able to make a difference."