Army Maj. (Dr.) Tim Cheslock examines a patient at the primary care
New Kabul Compound clinic in Afghanistan, where the former physician
assistant is serving a primary care physician during the first
deployment of his Army National Guard career. U.S. Army photo, Nov.
KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2011 – If you had told Tim Cheslock
when he was in high school 20 years ago that he someday would be
serving in the military in Afghanistan, he would have assumed he'd
be in the cockpit of an Air Force jet.
But today, Cheslock is
serving on the ground in Afghanistan as a doctor and a Pennsylvania
Army National Guard major.
“This certainly isn't where I
pictured myself being when I was younger,” he said. “I originally
thought I would be a pilot. I became involved in the Civil Air
Patrol while in junior high and high school. Civil Air Patrol had
the opportunity to learn about aviation and so much more. It was my
major activity throughout my junior high and high school period.
“I think that had a huge influence on my decision to join the
military,” he added.
But when he realized his eyesight wasn't
good enough to be an Air Force pilot Cheslock said, he moved past
that dream and focused on his second interest: medicine.
became involved in emergency services and search and rescue through
the Hawk Mountain Ranger School,” he said. “All of this instilled a
sense of pride, dedication and commitment that helped me to where I
Cheslock's search and rescue experience led him to
become an emergency medical technician. “I really enjoyed
pre-hospital emergency care,” he said. “Being able to help in times
of crisis and emergencies is very rewarding.”
Still, Cheslock said, when the time for college drew near, he wasn't
sure that medical school and the 12 years of continuous
classes were what he wanted. At the time, he said, the profession of
physician assistant was starting to take off and it “seemed like a
good fit for me.”
He earned his bachelor's degree from King's College. He
began work as a physician assistant and continued his
education, earning his master's degree in physician
assistant studies through the University of Nebraska, but
soon he was looking for a new challenge.
years of practicing primary care and family medicine and
three more in emergency medicine, Cheslock enrolled in
medical school, graduating in 2007 from the Lake Erie
College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Back home, Cheslock
is an emergency room doctor at Geisinger Wyoming Valley
Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Since deploying in
August, he has been primary care physician for New Kabul
Compound. Along with four medics, he provides sick-call
services and acute care to the more than 1,000 civilians and
military personnel assigned here.
“In many ways, what
I do here is exactly what I do at home,” Cheslock said.
“Coming to Afghanistan, I expected a more primitive setting
– to be working at a small camp under harsh conditions. But,
other than being smaller, the clinic here isn't very
different from an emergency room back in the states.”
Members of the clinic staff here say it is Cheslock who
has made it that way.
“Major Cheslock is an emergency
room physician. As such he has a wider array of skills than
other doctors, [and] ... has experience in many of the
illnesses and injuries we see,” said Army Sgt. Joshua
Pearson of the Colorado National Guard's 928th Area Support
Medical Company, the clinic's noncommissioned officer in
charge. “As a [physician assistant] prior to becoming a
doctor, he has a firm grasp of the trauma skills like
suturing, splinting and wound management.”
said the work here is mostly primary-care oriented –
sick-call care, sports and training injuries, and minor
emergencies. “That being said,” he added, “we need to be
ready and able to handle trauma at any time given the
operational environment. While our capabilities here are
limited to advanced trauma life support and stabilization
that can often mean the difference between life and death if
our soldiers become injured in battle.”
Cheslock is strong in all aspects of medicine. “He is an
excellent teacher and instructs all of the medics weekly on
various aspects of medicine,” he said. “He has refined our
clinical processes to make visits quicker.”
has been in the Guard for more than 14 years, this is
Cheslock's first deployment. After so many years of service
without deployment, he acknowledged, the orders taking him
to Afghanistan were a surprise.
“I was surprised, but
my wife was even more so than me,” he said. “I think we
always kept it in the back of our minds and didn't give it
too much thought. When I was alerted last year, it hit home.
But she understands this is part of being in the military,
and I know she supports my decision to serve.”
Cheslock's wife, Stephanie, said the deployment was
something the couple had prepared for. “We moved back to an
area that is close to where we both grew up this past June,
as we knew he would be deployed in September,” she said. “We
wanted to be close to family during that time.”
Stephanie and their children -- Abigail, 6, and Claire, 3 --
await his return, Cheslock said, he is enjoying the chance
to work with and help the service members and civilians
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Porter
U.S. Forces Afghanistan
American Forces Press Service
Comment on this article