By Steve Lewis
IRVINE, CA–At age 60, when many men are starting to wind down their careers and transition toward retirement, Lt. Col. Dore Gilbert, MD, a practicing dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at the University of California at Irvine, decided to follow a very different path. He joined the U.S. Army Reserve.
The physical requirements were not an issue for Gilbert, who two years later still can do 24 consecutive pull-ups and gets up every morning and does 100 push-ups and sit-ups. In his “spare time” he runs between three and six miles, three days a week.
“I’m of the philosophy that it does not matter how old you are but how old would you be?” he says. “I do not feel 62; every joint hurts, but I’m happy to be doing it.”
Gilbert has done more than serve; he has excelled. He recently received a “Members Making a Difference” award from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) for his service providing skin cancer screenings for soldiers and for his work with “Brighter Days,” a skin care program for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The award is the highest honor the academy gives to volunteers.
Lt. Col. Dore Gilbert, MD joined the Army Reserve at age 60 and has been recognized for his efforts to screen soldiars for skin cancer.
After Years, ‘The Stars Lined Up’
Gilbert says he had been thinking about serving since 1983. “I had been feeling guilty,” he confesses. “I finished my residency in 1979 and went to private practice. I missed Vietnam.” In fact, he adds, he probably did everything he could to avoid service, which led to even greater remorse.
“I looked into joining in 1983, but in those days if you were called up, you would be gone for a year,” he recalls. “I would have lost my practice and my house; my wife would not sign up for that.” So as things “percolated along,” in his words, he said he wondered what it would have been like had he served and that unanswered question continued to gnaw at him.
When his youngest son enlisted in the Marine Corps, Col. Gilbert began to think again about serving and wondered if he could still join. “I called a recruiter and found out the cutoff was age 60, and I was close to that,” he recounts. He learned that the Army had a program where, if he joined and was deployed, it would only be for a maximum of four months.
“That was doable. I could keep my practice and not have to worry about the house. So as long as my wife was OK with it, I felt it could work,” says Col. Gilbert. In addition, his daughter, now a physician’s assistant, had been working for him for a couple of years, and he had another physician who had joined the practice. “When I looked at all the stars, they lined up pretty well,” he says.