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‘Black Jack’ physicians balance healthcare needs

Email   Print   Share By Sgt. Quentin Johnson, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
August 22, 2013 | News
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Capt. Kristen Koenig (left), a family practitioner attached to 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, assists Capt. Justin Zimmerman, a physical therapist with Black Jack, during a patients’ physical therapy in a clinic at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, July 29. Koenig is assigned to Fort Campbell, Ky., but attached to Black Jack providing and helping balance additional healthcare needs during the brigades’ deployment. Sgt. Quentin Johnson, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav Div Public Affairs
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Maj. Abigail Lee, a dermatologist attached to 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, hands over her vote for a “best eyes” competition during a ophthalmology lecture in a hospital on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. Sgt. Quentin Johnson, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - As the only deployed physician’s assistant with 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Capt. La Tasha Gray, must treat and care for hundreds of troops here, a challenge she will not have to face alone while in Afghanistan.

Two doctors from different states attached to the brigade will serve their tour with Gray as brigade health providers, helping maintain the brigade’s medical fitness, sharing medical experience and building friendships.

Physicians Maj. Abigail Lee, a dermatologist assigned to San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, and Capt. Kristen Koenig, a family practitioner assigned to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, at Fort Campbell, Ky., were attached to Black Jack at the end of April.

The two went through the brigade’s Joint Readiness Training Center rotation in Fort Polk, La., in May, and deployment in July.

Although they came from different Army posts and healthcare settings, both Lee and Koenig said their anticipation of the deployment with Black Jack were similar.

“It was no surprise I was deploying. The Army trains us well and I was ready for the new experiences,” Koenig said.

“I knew I was on the list to deploy. I had deployed to Iraq and was excited about experiencing Afghanistan with ‘Black Jack,’” Lee said.

From the start, Koenig said she was welcomed into the Black Jack Family by her counterparts.

“The medics have welcomed me with their motivation and insightfulness,” Koenig said.

“I have been truly overwhelmed,” Lee agreed, “by the support and performance of (Black Jack).”

Gray said Lee and Koenig are a welcomed edition to the brigade, and a needed source of experience and knowledge.

“It’s great having them here. I love having medical doctors around to exchange ideas with and draw from their experiences on more difficult medical cases,” Gray said.

Both Lee and Koenig hope to share their knowledge and ensure sound health care is given to Soldiers who need it.

“There is a potential opportunity to make a real difference while I’m here,” Lee said. “I am always excited to help heal Soldiers.”

Koenig said her experience with family medicine is useful, as many health issues deployed Soldiers encounter are the same, though she is looking forward to expanding her knowledge while assigned to Black Jack.

“I am looking forward to new experiences including different medical procedures and trauma care, should such a case present itself,” Koenig said.

Lee said while gaining new experiences is rewarding, she hopes to pass on some of her knowledge with the staff and facilitate new ideas for the clinic.

“I would like to facilitate some new communication strategies and start a mentorship program among the medics,” Lee said, “to help them continuously pursue their future in medicine.”
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