Honoring our heroes: Maj. Aaron Buzzard, M.D.

From missiles to medicine, Dr. Aaron Buzzard has spent every day of his adult life fighting for the greatest good of his fellow Americans. As a medical professional, he worked his way from nurse’s aide to EMT.  Medical school to chief medical resident in emergency medicine. To flight surgeon. Finally, to emergency physician and medical director of numerous EMS agencies and clinical assistant professor of Emergency Medicine with the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.

And it all started with the Army.

Why Army?

“When I graduated from high school, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life,” Buzzard said. “I got into a lot of trouble as a kid. Then I joined the U.S. Army at 18, and that took my life in a direction I could never have imagined.”

Private Buzzard entered the military as a stinger missile operator in Ft. Riley, Kansas. Also, he trained as a first responder/combat lifesaver, which is what piqued his interest in the medical field. Then after being promoted to the rank of specialist, he completed his first active duty tour and moved to Colorado to attend a community college. There, he joined the Colorado National Guard and served as a combat medic (EMT) to an artillery unit in Colorado Springs. He worked through his first years in college as an EMT, medical assistant and certified nurse’s aide, with the aim of starting nursing school.

Medical training

However, those plans changed quickly.

“I lasted exactly one day in nursing school,” he said. “The professors were yelling and screaming at the nursing students in the front of the class, and I’d had enough of that in the military; I didn’t want it in the classroom. I transferred to Texas A&M, where I finished with a bachelor’s in molecular and cellular biology.”

Then, upon acceptance to University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Specialist Buzzard entered the Army Reserves where he was promoted to lieutenant. With the combination of his GI Bill and the Army, he graduated from medical school without significant debt, spending his summers at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and Tripler Army Hospital in Hawaii. Then, Dr. Buzzard began his residency training as an emergency physician at Darnall Army Hospital in Ft. Hood. He had a new new rank of Captain and eventually became chief resident.

Flight surgeon

From there, Dr. Buzzard was assigned to the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion in Ft. Hood, Texas, then flight surgeon school in Ft. Rucker, Alabama. Following flight surgeon school, Dr. Buzzard was deployed four times to the Iraq theatre of war at the Balad Airbase during Operation Iraqi Freedom, particularly due to the unique capabilities of his unit.

A decorated veteran, Major Doctor Buzzard said he’s most proud of his Order of St. Michael Army Aviation award – Bronze. Named for the biblical archangel who wages war against evil in defense of others, the award was established to honor those who have significantly contributed to the Army in ways that stand out to the recipient’s seniors, subordinates, and peers as well as demonstrate the highest standards of integrity, moral character, competence, and skill.

His other prestigious awards include Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal with two oak leaves, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, three Army Achievement medals, two National Defense Service Ribbons, and the Government War on Terrorism Medal.

Civilian life

As with many veterans, war took a toll on Dr. Buzzard’s personal life. He said he missed out on a lot of his eldest sons Sean’s and Ethan’s early lives, and his first marriage was a casualty of war.

But the physician rebuilt his life stateside, in his home state of Texas. He has a 2-year-old son, Matthew, with his wife of five years, Elizabeth.

“She has changed my life,” he said. “She’s the best person I’ve ever met, and I could not be successful without her.”

Current career

In Bryan, he works at a Level II Trauma Center and regional transfer center where he sees the sickest people in the surrounding 10 counties and treats everything from gunshot wounds to strokes, car wreck carnage to STEMIS. He’s double board-certified in Emergency Medicine and EMS Medical Direction.

A member of the legacy group Emergency Service Partners (ESP), Dr. Buzzard said he’s been happy with the US Acute Care Solutions leadership.

“It’s very well-organized, and the benefits are excellent, definitely an upgrade,” Dr. Buzzard said. “I’m not a business kind of guy, so I love spending time with my family rather than getting into all of the billing and some of those other details.”

However, Dr. Buzzard’s awards didn’t stop with his military service. Last Veteran’s Day, he was honored with a Congressional Veteran Commendation for his service at home.

“Not a lot of people can say they get to make a difference in somebody’s life every single day,” he said. “Every day I try to set a good example for my patients, paramedics, and students. I love getting a chance truly getting to help people in their time of need.”