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‘Black Jack’ physicians balance health care needs

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 4:30 am

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — Two doctors from different states attached to 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, are serving as brigade health providers, helping maintain the brigade’s medical fitness, sharing medical experience and building friendships.

Physicians, Maj. Abigail Lee, a dermatologist from San Antonio Military Medical center at Fort Sam Houston, and Capt. Kristen Koenig, a family practitioner from Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Ky., were attached to Black Jack toward the end of April and went through the brigade’s Joint Readiness Training Center rotation in Fort Polk, La., in May and deployment in July.

Black Jack is deployed to Afghanistan to support retrograde operations of both service members in Afghanistan and their equipment.

Although they came from different Army posts and health care settings, both Lee and Koenig said their anticipations 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 graciously welcomed into the Black Jack family by her counterparts.

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

Lee agreed.

“I have been truly overwhelmed by the support and performance of (Black Jack),” she 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 in states.

“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 to help them continuously pursue their future in medicine,” Lee said.

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