Springfield, Illinois - The first General Surgeon to be commissioned under Navy Recruiting Command's new Medical Officer Top 5 initiative was officially sworn into the Navy Reserve August 18.
Dr. John Wieland, a general surgeon from Bloomington, Illinois, took the oath of office in front of his family at the Illinois Capitol Building, becoming one of the first physicians to answer the Navy's call for reserve doctors in select medical specialties.
"As a practicing general surgeon for almost 25 years, I believe I can make a contribution to the health care of the men and women in the Navy who deserve the highest quality of care available," said Wieland.
The Medical Officer Top 5 program was established in February to help fill the shortage of specific medical specialties in the Navy's Reserve Medical Corps. Letters were sent out to medical professionals across the country looking for orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons, anesthesiologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and perioperative nurses.
"The whole idea of the shortage of surgeons in my specialty really caught my attention and that was really the appeal of the [request] actually, that there was a need," said Wieland.
Chief Hospital Corpsman Ariel Ampier, officer recruiter, Navy Recruiting District St. Louis, said the Navy needs more physicians like Wieland to serve.
"We're hurting badly and these physicians they're the ones that are going to come out and deploy and support the warfighter," said Ampier a native of Danbury, Connecticut.
A special medical VIP team was also established as part of the initiative to provide enhanced service and guidance for qualified physicians and nurses throughout the entire application process.
"The Navy has created this program that makes it very painless to follow through on that desire to serve and I can't tell you how many people have thanked me for doing this and I haven't really done anything yet," said Wieland. "There's a tremendous gratitude within the Navy and even in my day-to-day work."
Wieland added that joining the Reserve not only fulfilled his desire to give back, but gives him an opportunity to honor his father who served in the Dental Corps from 1953-1955.
"I could tell it meant a great deal to him to serve his country," said Wieland. "To this day, at age 87 he lights up when he recounts his experiences in the Navy."
Wieland said the entire process has been a humbling experience and he is glad he followed through with his decision to join the military.