Tour of duty: Six months in a war hospital

By Peter Pollack

In Afghanistan, military surgeons must also confront civilian casualties

“The facility I was working at was essentially a plywood-type structure,” begins Col. Richard A. Schaefer, MD, describing the hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where he held the post of Chief of Surgical Services from July 2006 to January 2007. “It had deployable operating rooms attached to the main structure. Although it wasn’t meant to be a permanent facility, it had been there for a few years. We had monitors, ventilators, digitized X-ray machines, and even a computed axial tomography scanner.”

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