Disability and Veterans

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UMUC Course BEHS320
Applied Final Project
(Interview with Lt Col Eric Holt)
Gregory Leach

18 Nov 21

Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) and Doctor Eric Holt is a highly decorated combat medic and warrior who has faithfully served his country for over 15 year. He attended both West Point and Harvard Medical School where he trained to be a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and an Anesthesiologist. I had the pleasure of working with him at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), FL for two year before his move onto his work in Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) as a forward deployed medical officer assigned to classified missions in the Pacific theater and Afghanistan area of operations supporting multi-national special operations warriors. It was on one of these classified missions in Northern Afghanistan that Lt Col Holt sustained multiple life threatening injuries that still impact him and his family today, seven years after that last fate filled mission.

It was on his third deployment as a member an AFSOC Mobile Field Surgical Team (MFST) that Lt Col Holt was injured. His team was returning in a three Humvee convoy from a mission in the dead of night when Dr. Holt armored vehicle ran over an Improvise Explosive Device (IED) buried in the Afghan soil. Holt was ejected from the vehicle and thrown 20-30 feet through the air until he hit a wall with his head and face. Even with his critical wounds, wound that would take an ordinary man out of action, Lt Col Holt first response after doing an assessment of his own injuries was force protection and medical treatment of the other passengers in the vehicle. Once the site was secure and situational awareness ascertained everyone realized the extent of Lt Col Holts injuries. Initial assessment revealed a fractured neck, probable facial fractures, bilateral lung contusion, and airway trauma that need immediate attention. A cervical collar was immediately applied to his neck, which prevented further injury and paralysis.

After several hours and with hypothermia setting in, Lt Col Holt and the other injured team members where airlift via Blackhawk helicopter to the nearest forward operating base (FOB), medical facility. During the flight Lt Col Holt began vomiting, alerted the medical team that he had a high probability of an intercranial hemorrhage. Once his life threatening injuries were stabilized at the FOB he was flown to Bagram Air Base, then to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. It was in Germany where he underwent spinal fusion surgery to stabilize his fractured neck. After a week in Germany, Lt Col Holt was on his way stateside to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. where he would undergo five additional surgeries to correct his facial fractures and nerve damage in his mouth. In the course of this initial treatment Lt Col Holt was in and out sedation and a medically induced coma but remained upbeat and optimistic, but admitted he (personal interviews and communication, November 1-8, 2012) “felt like I was run over by a tank”.

After word spread of his injuries, family, friends, and colleague mobilized to support him and his wife, Nashwa. Lt Col Holt (personal interviews and communication, November 1-8, 2012) gets emotional and says “The outpouring of love and support of friends and family was heartwarming and will touch me until the day I die” and “I couldn’t have asked for more or better support from my Chain of Command and my military family.” Always the optimist, Lt Col Holt has set backs and doubt like anyone in his situation, but with his faith in God, the medical staff and bolstered by support from friends and family he began the long road to recovery. Dr. Holt...
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