Eight years in the Army helped Eddie Charles George, Jr. find focus in his life. After graduating from Franklin County High School in 1999, he worked, but didn’t really have a goal he was working toward. Then, the attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington, D.C. sent Eddie down a new path.
“When I saw those people jumping out of the twin towers…you can’t make people make that decision,” he said, shaking his head. “They had no choice.”
Eddie said that before the Army, he was working odd jobs where he experienced “life’s struggles that come with working an entry level job.”
By 2003, when he realized the conflicts arising from the 9/11 were not ending, Eddie enlisted in the Army as an artillery cannon crewmember. He felt that the Army would give him a way to express his patriotism, find a career and become motivated. But, another twist of fate would change his direction again when he suffered an injury during basic training—one which put him face-to-face with healthcare professionals responsible for his healing.
“It was this interaction with the medical field that made me realize that a job in healthcare was for me,” Eddie said.
After two years of healing, Eddie signed up to become a combat medic and healthcare specialist. He provided primary healthcare in Korea—a great introduction, he said, to understanding the “physiological effects that the human body goes through while compensating for illness or injury.”
Eddie spent time in the emergency department of Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, NC, cutting his teeth on the fast pace of acute critical care.
His next assignment was Flight Medic School at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX, followed by two tours of duty in Afghanistan. Eddie picked up patients, both foe and friend, from the battlefields, learning to quickly assess their status and make clinical decisions.
“I really got to do my job over there,” he said. “I learned to work with a certain level of autonomy during extremely stressful situations. Failure was not an option for me, when I was dealing with life and death. You always try to succeed.”
For Eddie, this was no longer a job, but a life-saving mission that gave him purpose, motivation and direction. From boot camp in Oklahoma, to Regional Commands in South and East in Afghanistan, he found his home in medicine. Eddie discovered the empathy, compassion and care already within him, which he could offer to those in need.
Now, as a graduating senior in the Biomedical Sciences program at Jefferson College, he intends to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant. Many of the medical advancements he saw on the battlefield from 2005 to 2013 are now creeping into civilian healthcare. In the end, Eddie knows that his military experience will only help him in the future.
“I will bring the skills that I acquired in leadership, teamwork and dedication to the field of medicine,” he said.
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