11 November 2009

Home of the Free, Because of the Brave

Thank you, Dr. (Lt Col) Chesser.

Military doctor still tending to veterans as parade marshal

A year ago, Chesser, 43, was a physician with the Phoenix VA Health Care System, a U.S. Air Force Medical reservist, a Glendale husband and father and a volunteer preparing for his first tour.

As the doctor on a critical-care air transport team, or CCATT, Chesser worked with a nurse and a respiratory technician to provide intensive care to wounded warriors in the back of a C-17 cargo plane. The plane flew between Joint Base Balad, north of Baghdad, to Ramstein Air Base near Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.

Today, Lt. Col. Chesser is a grand marshal representing Iraq veterans in the annual VA Veterans Day Parade in Phoenix. This year's theme is "Home of the Free, Because of the Brave" and will honor veterans who have fought in the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. ...

"It's a privilege to serve the people who are serving," said Chesser of his most recent experience as a military medic. "In a deployed environment, they're nervous. They're scared. They have a dangerous job and they know we're volunteers to be there with them."

Chesser comes from a military family. His father served in the Air Force for 22 years. A brother and sister both served in the military. While poor eyesight kept Chesser from becoming a pilot, the Air Force paid for most of his medical-school expenses.

At the veterans hospital, Chesser treats veterans on the inpatient wards and trains new medical residents about hospital care. He said he volunteered to go to Iraq out of a sense of duty.

"I knew the wars were dragging on and I had some skills they could use," Chesser said. "A majority are emergency room doctors, but I'd done enough critical care to qualify."

"Thanksgiving wasn't the same, Christmas wasn't the same," said [Chesser's wife] Johnnie. "But he has a lot of compassion for the soldiers. I was glad to know someone like him was there."

I'm glad, too. Thank you Dr. Chesser and all of our Veterans.

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