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U S Army Doctor, LTC John Page, A Calling to Serve
by Pastor Dan White 
12/01/11
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Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) John Page, M.D. received a dreadful call on September 20, 2010, only two months after he had deployed to the United States Army base in Ramadi, Iraq. Two United States soldiers had been killed in Fallujah, and it was alledged that another soldier had killed them.


Spc. Neftaly Platero, 32, of Kingwood, Texas, has been charged with the premeditated murder of Spc. John Carillo, Jr., 22, of Stockton, California, and Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan, 26, of Watertown, Connecticut, on September 24, 2010.


Dr. Page said that the bodies were to be sent to Charlie Medical Clinic where he served. They would arrive via a refrigerated van. Body bags were laid out on stretchers. He would be the doctor to officially declare them dead and prepare them for shipment back to the States. Dr. Page said, “I was emotionally taxed with this news and the duty ahead of me. It was a sobering initiation into the stresses and ordeals faced by our soldiers in Iraq. There was a lot of confusion. But later, word came that an Army doctor in Fallujah had arrived to make the official declaration of death and sign the papers.”


Dr. Page commented, "Not only did I have to deal with my own stresses on an almost daily basis, I found that there were tons of stress in many of the soldiers that I treated. The chaplains and psychologists who I knew stayed busy counseling and helping them cope with the tensions they constantly faced. I found that worse still was when a soldier told me that his/her spouse back home had left him/her. That was a tough blow on top of everything they were dealing with.”


“In my job at the Clinic,” said Dr. Page, who is a gastroenterologist, “I was there to treat everyone who walked through the door. All of us doctors no matter what our specialty have to rely on the primary care training we received in medical school. We were jack-of-all trades treating soldiers for depression and trauma in addition to their physical medical needs. There were a lot of different kinds of hurts that needed our attention.


“In my job at the Clinic,” said Dr. Page, who is a gastroenterologist, “I was there to treat everyone who walked through the door. All of us doctors no matter what our specialty have to rely on the primary care training we received in medical school. We were jack-of-all trades treating soldiers for depression and trauma in addition to their physical medical needs. There were a lot of different kinds of hurts that needed our attention.


“I was on call every other night. My bunk was in the clinic. All someone had to do at night was to knock on my door for treatment.


“The key for me in dealing with my own stresses,” Dr. Page continues, “was to depend on the Lord and develop healthy relationships with others. I tried to grow in my relationship with Christ. I read the Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren while I was deployed and kept up with my readings from the Bible. I had my personal quiet prayer time with God and interceded in prayer for the troops under my care. I went to Sunday School, Bible studies, Sunday worship services, and Sunday evening Bible studies when I could. We had a men’s group that met on Monday nights. One particular Bible passage that meant so much to me then and now is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.’”


Another blessing for me was that through these activities, I developed friendships with others for mutual support that we needed during our deployments. The Christian fellowship and camaraderie that we had together was incredible.


“I wanted to deploy and do my part for the Army and my country. I had missed several opportunities to deploy before I got my orders to Iraq. Yes, it was hard to be away from my wife and our four children. But, I believe that it was even harder on her as it is for all those our soldiers leave behind in the States. We have four children ages 11, 14, 16, and 17 who had to adjust to the changes without dad. Moreover, we home school our children, and all the responsibility of schooling and parenting fell on her during my time in Iraq from July 2010 to January of this year.


“Another thing that helped us during my time in Ramadi was the ability to communicate regularly with my family thanks to today’s technology afforded to us by the Army. I could keep up with them and their day-to-day activities, and they could keep up with me. Communicating with our families back home is a vital part of our soldiers’ well-being and the well-being of the loved ones they have left behind. My father, who retired from the Army, also enjoyed conversing with me too.


The Army assigns one chaplain for every battalion which is between 6-8000 troops. Dr. Page recalls the Christmas Eve 2010 worship service. “We had a wonderful, uplifting service led by our chaplains. The music team led us in the traditional carols. A physician’s assistant played the guitar and keyboard. One of our civilian contractors played the violin. The familiar hymns, the traditional Scripture readings from Isaiah and Luke, and the Chaplain’s Christmas sermon really blessed and inspired us all.


“On Christmas day, the Army went all out for us. For Christmas dinner, the chow hall was festively decorated complete with floats and displays. I mean, it was really decked out! Our commanders and leaders served the soldiers wearing Santa caps. The traditional meal also included lobster and a fabulous dessert line. The Army gave us Christmas cheer. We were like family.


“Afterward, we exchanged presents and opened the care packages from supportive citizens back home. Snacks, T-shirts, and assorted gifts filled the packages and meant so much to all of us. Children sent home-baked cookies. School teachers had led their classes to make Christmas cards with handwritten notes and sent them to us. Their outpouring of love, support, and appreciation for our troops and for me encouraged us beyond what words are able to express. We were overwhelmed with joy and felt a cohesion and solidarity with them and with each other. They gave us a Merry Christmas even though we were far from home and family. I will always be grateful.”


This Christmas (2011) will find LTC John Page worshipping with his wife and children at their church, Redeemer Presbyterian in Evans, GA. His family’s roots are in Gloucester, Virginia, and in the Episcopal Church. Being the son of a career Army artillery officer who fought in World War II and in the Korean War, Dr. Page was a true Army brat and worshipped in the base chapels and local Episcopal churches when one was close to their home. When he was in training to become a physician at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, he and his family attended Oak Hills Church where Max Lucado is pastor.


LTC Page’s desire to enter medicine came from the Lord. “I graduated from West Point with a degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in Operations Research Systems Analysis. But after sixteen years as a line and staff officer, I resigned my West Point commission and entered medical school.


“The Lord called me into medicine 17 years ago at the age of 34 when I was a staff officer at the Pentagon. There were two factors in how God spoke to me. At the Pentagon, I realized that I was not impacting the lives of those around me. Secondly, my oldest son was diagnosed with microcephaly. The compassionate care of the doctors in their treatment of him and their work with me and my wife had a huge influence on me. God spoke to me during this difficult time in our lives calling me to minister to others through medicine.”


Dr. Page’s call to minister to others led him to volunteer to travel to Nicaragua last month with a team from the Augusta, Georgia, area comprised mostly of civilians. The United States Department of Defense (DOD) wants military doctors to go across boundaries – especially to third world countries like Nicaragua. Dr. Page said, “The DOD wants us to learn to provide health care across boundaries in different environments. This program is good for the USA and good for the countries that benefit from our efforts. It builds good will and helps us doctors to gain skills necessary to provide health care in austere conditions.


“I was able to treat about 150 people in three and a half days,” Dr. Page recalls. “The Army gave me another opportunity there to fulfill my calling which is to care for others. I had patients who traveled seven to eight hours over the mountains to see me for medical help. I am thankful that I could be there for them and hope to continue helping others through what I consider to be my ministry, calling, and service to the Army, to my country and my God.”


LTC John Page, M.D., is currently stationed at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, at the Eisenhower Army Hospital and Medical Center. Jesus said that His followers are “the light of the world. A city on a hill that cannot be hidden and to let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). The light of Christ shines through Dr. Page with the love and compassion of Christ upon all those under his care. Our country is indeed blessed to have men and women like him serving in our Armed Forces.


For more on Dr. Page, check out
http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=140248


Rev. Dan White is a free-lance writer and founder and pastor of North Columbia Church, Appling, GA. Email: danwhite5868@yahoo.com


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