Last edited on 07/23/2010 at 00:32 AM (UTC3 Assyria)
Weston native Ed Michaud III, MD Contributed Photo.
Weston native working to improve health care in Iraq by Susan L. Wagner GateHouse News Service Posted Jul 08, 2010 @ 10:44 AM
WESTON — The journey – both physical and psychic – from the leafy Boston suburbs to the windswept landscape of northern Iraq is a significant one. But Weston native Ed Michaud III, MD, is doing it just fine, thank you.
Michaud, who is the division surgeon of the U.S. Army’s Task Force Marne, which is what the Third Infantry Division is called when it is deployed to combat, has been at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit (about 90 miles northwest of Baghdad) since last fall. He is scheduled to leave this November.
Despite his title, Michaud’s specialty is internal medicine. "The title surgeon evolved during the Civil War, when all physicians were surgeons as well," he explained in a phone interview from halfway around the world. "The title stuck. Every commander in every service has a surgeon. Our surgeon general, for example, is the nation’s top physician and reports to the president, who is the commander-in-chief. My commander here in Iraq is Major General Tony Cuculo."
The Third Infantry Division’s home base is Fort Stewart, about 40 miles west of Savannah in Georgia.
Michaud attended public schools and later graduated from The Rivers School. He did his undergraduate work at Colby College in Maine, received his MD from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey, and joined the Army in 1991. He did his residency at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. While he serves overseas, his wife Rita and their three children live at Fort Stewart.
Prior to Iraq, Michaud served in Bosnia, where he was a battalion physician, and Afghanistan, where he was in charge of cooperative medical engagements. He follows in a family medical tradition. His father, Ed Michaud Jr., who still lives in Weston, was a U.S. Army dentist in Vietnam and Korea.
Aside from his expected and normal duties of overseeing the health care needs of the 17,000 U.S. military personnel scattered throughout his area (he works with 36 physicians, 43 assistants, 27 battalion aid stations, and four larger medical companies), Michaud is a senior advisor for medical issues and training of Iraqi medics in northern Iraq.
The area is a fascinating one, he said. The Tigris river bisects the region from the Turkish border to the north, running through Tikrit, and then on down to Baghdad. To the northwest of Tikrit, which is in Salahuddin Province and mainly Sunni Arab, is Ninevah, the site of the Old Testament Book of Jonah, the last capital of the Assyrian Empire, and home to many Assyrian Christians.
To the northeast is the city of Kirkuk – half Kurdish with a sprinkling of Arabs, Turks and other minorities. Diyala Province and Baghdad, with a large Shiite Muslim population, lie to the southeast. To the west is the Al Jazeera desert which stretches to Syria. And to the northeast are the Hamrin and Zagros mountains as well as the Kurdistan region.
"What all this means," Michaud said, "is that the geography has locked in a number of different ethnic groups for thousands of years." And this in turn, is a fascinating part of his job – to create teams consisting of individuals from different backgrounds so they can practice working and training together toward a common end.
The major goal of Michaud’s task with the Iraqis is to improve the capacity of their health systems. In so doing, he works with the ministries of Health, Defense and the Interior to plan, create and approve appropriate curricula. The Iraqi Minister of Health is in charge of the overall operation.
Among Michaud’s clients are medics, police, and, especially, ambulance drivers.
"One of the things we’re concentrating on right now is coordinating the EMT courses because currently the ambulance drivers don’t have any medical training. People just get thrown into an ambulance and driven to the nearest medical facility."
It’s important not only to improve the health care system, but to improve the people’s perception of that system, Michaud said.
"It’s not just getting them to the point where they can perform a particular function, but getting the people to really believe that they can do it. When that happens, we will have truly achieved our mission and we can exit the country."
The response of the Iraqis to the initiative, Michaud said, is "very enthusiastic. We find things they want to do and that are, at the same time, things that we can supply. The training of ambulance drivers is a good example. It’s something they want right now, and it’s something we can supply because we have a lot of medical personnel who are very good at training."
The classes are run in what Michaud calls "train-the-trainer" fashion.
"We take the best students from each class and they go on to train still other groups. The classes are so popular that we have to turn applicants away. At the same time, the Minister of Health has spoken at graduations and he’s getting lot of legitimacy and prestige with his people because of this association. It’s really a win-win-win situation."
Copyright 2010 The Weston Town Crier. Some rights reserved.
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.