Originally posted on Monday, July 23, 2007 in the Killeen Daily Herald. Article by Amanda Kim Stairrett.
Though he is a doctor, Capt. Artemus Flagg II often helps soldiers with non-medical issues.
But it is because he is a doctor that soldiers trust and confide in him, the 33-year-old said during a telephone interview from Iraq in early June.
Flagg, who resides in Harken Heights, serves as the battalion flight surgeon for the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, which is currently stationed in Taji, Iraq. He is responsible for providing urgent care and occupational, preventive and aerospace medicine to soldiers at Camp Taji. Flagg deployed to the Middle East in October.
He gets to treat a range of soldiers — from aviators, to crew chiefs, to the battalion commander — and considers it a “networking center.”
It is challenging but rewarding to help soldiers who are having problems adjusting to being in Iraq, he said. It can be difficult to be away from home, miss family and hear loud noises, and he tries to relate to the soldiers’ concerns by relating a story to their situation.
Because he has so much access to so many in the battalion, he can often link soldiers with those who have more experience. If a soldier tells Flagg that he is interested in becoming an aviator, the captain knows pilots who can mentor that soldier, he said.
He considers this non-clinical role of a physician in a combat environment to be important because for many of the soldiers, “we’re their friend,” Flagg said.
The brigade has more than 10 healthcare providers that includes physician’s assistants and medics aside from the doctors like Flagg. However, the physicians have to be available 24 hours a day in case the patients need a higher level of care. Flagg estimated that he works 12-18 hours a day.
Flagg is interested in anesthesiology and would like to train at Texax A&M University’s medical school at Scott & White Memorial Hospital.
He said he has been most surprised by how few accidental injuries have occurred at the camp. There are a million moving parts working 24 hours a day, he said, and there have been very few serious injuries. That just goes to show how proficient the soldiers are and the good training they receive, he said.
Aside from his medical degree, Flagg also has a master’s degree in public health. He has been on active duty since 2002 and this is his first deployment to Iraq.
The military runs in Flagg’s family’s blood. Both his grandfathers and numerous uncles served in the military. His wife, Capt. Lakisha Flagg, is a community health nurse at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. They have been married since July 2004 and said he said it was difficult to miss their anniversary this month.
He credits his wife for helping him get through the day more than once by sharing jokes and making him laugh.
Dr. Flagg served with the United States Army from 2005-2009 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.