bootsontheground 01/11/11

On the ground in Tucson

Saturday's tragedy in Tucson changed the lives of scores of people and threw this entire border city into turmoil. It also affected the lives of some of our military personnel - a team of military doctors who were on their way to Afghanistan when the shooting happened.

These military neurosurgeons are some of the world's foremost experts on brain injuries because of their experience with brain trauma in the war zone.  So when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head in Saturday's assassination attempt, the military re-routed their team of brain surgeons to Tucson to see if they could help.

In a news conference Tuesday, the University Medical Center's critical care director Dr. Peter Rhee described the military's assistance as "phenomenal" and lauded their skills in the area of brain trauma. 

This is a phenomenon that has been common throughout the history of war: Many medical advances are made out of necessity in wartime, the benefits of which then trickle down to the civilian health care system. Not a good reason to have a war, of course, but call it a "silver lining" to the tragedy of war.

After they've finished providing whatever help they can at the University Medical Center here in Tucson, this team of dedicated military doctors will pack up and head back to Afghanistan, where medical miracles like we've seen here in the news are happening every day.