Life Lessons From My Military Service And Oh, The Irony It Brings

Life Lessons From My Military Service And Oh, The Irony It Brings by @SRobbinsAuthor #military #service #Vietnam

Stock Vietnam Photo, royalty-free courtesy of

The Viet Nam War

The Viet Nam War had a way of shaping lives during the 60s and early 70s. Even for those of us who were lucky enough to avoid the trip, it was ever-present. On the news each night, on campus, and for those of us with low draft numbers and an aversion to combat, there was a constant threat of getting that fateful letter.

When I joined an Army Reserve unit, I saw it as an opportunity to fulfill the obligation without sloshing around a rice paddy. I was a sophomore at Ohio State at the time and focused on my degree in accounting, moving on to law school and a career as a tax lawyer.

Safe, secure, a bit boring, but lucrative.

So, when I signed up for the Reserves, I found a “JAG unit” in Cleveland (that’s the Army’s term for its attorneys) and thought at least I might be able to make some contacts and get some experience. Like everything else in my life, it didn’t go that way!

When I got the call, it was for a mobile hospital unit. I was going to be in a real-life MASH episode, (most likely as Klinger, rather than Hawkeye).

(Interesting read here about the show: Why the Real-Life Hawkeye Pierce Hated ‘M*A*S*H’ (

The Irony Of Me In A Medical Unit

Given that I get queasy at the very hint of blood or the sight of a needle, the thought of me trying to apply even a Band-Aid was beyond my grasp.

After ten weeks of training at Fort Sam Houston, I began to feel empowered in a way that was different from what my “tax attorney” self had felt.

My skills were basic, but I actually had the knowledge to save a life if the event came to pass.   

The Healer’s Miraculous Discovery borrows heavily from my own experience. Somewhat like my book’s character, Tim Leahy, when I got back to campus (for my junior year), I needed a job and was tired of washing dishes. I figured perhaps I could find something better to help put myself through school and was lucky enough to land a job doing respiratory therapy at a local hospital.

Also, like Tim, within an hour of my starting work, I was called into a “code blue” situation (a patient in cardiac arrest). With no idea of what I was doing, I assisted in the CPR effort of a relatively young patient who died in my hands. It was a quick education on how precious life is.

Life Lessons From My Military Service And Oh, The Irony It Brings by @SRobbinsAuthor #military #service #Vietnam

11th ACR Regimental Commander Colonel George S Patton (WWII general’s son) arrives at C Troop for field briefing, 1968. The rainy season presents serious mobility problems. Courtesy of Art Cody.

I continued to work part-time at the hospital until I graduated two years later and eventually continued my work in healthcare administration for over 40 years.

I certainly wasn’t much of a soldier, nor much of a medic, but ironically the experience allowed me to put my management talents to better use than figuring out tax returns for rich people. In my own way, I was able to be part of a system and a calling to make other people’s lives healthier and, hopefully, more fulfilling.


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The Healer’s Miraculous Discovery is highly recommended for libraries looking for crossovers between sci-fi and fictional representations of personal and social change. Its plausible possibilities create many insights and reflections that readers won’t see coming.”

Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review 

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  1. Tom Mazur on September 18, 2023 at 6:46 pm

    I spent almost the whole year of 1968 in nam. I missed the Tet offensive by a week…but during my tour MLK was killed as was Robert Kennedy. That unrest began to creep into the ranks and it made me realize that life is a series of wars within wars. When the monsoons came everything seemed to slow down a bit and we bitched about mother nature a lot. But., as my friend Dowdy from Detroit used to say, no rain, no rice….God is good.


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