Editor in Chief



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Current Issue

Healthcare is vital to all of us some of the time, but public health is vital to all of us all of the time. —C. Everett Koop (1916-2013)

It has been with no small amount of dismay that I have watched national maps of the measles outbreak grow progressively redder on the national news as the epidemic continues to spread across the nation.... View Article

April 2019

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” —Walt Disney (1901-1966)

A friend recently texted me a Military.com article by columnist Tom Philpott entitled, “More than 17,000 Uniformed Medical Jobs Eyed for Elimination.” I read the item with no small amount of trepidation and concern, since... View Article

Current Issue

“Medice, cura te ipsum” – Luke 4:23

Physician, heal thyself is the English translation of the ancient Latin proverb quoted in the title. Various forms of this quote are found in a variety of classical texts, and it is generally accepted that... View Article

Current Issue

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” –Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Julius Caesar commented, “No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.” My wife, Pam, and I recently traveled to Florida to visit my mother and father, who are in their... View Article

Current Issue

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” –Maimonides (1135-1204)

Much to my family’s chagrin, the influence of British humor on my personality and sense of humor began as a preteen. I would stay up late at night for episodes of “Benny Hill” and my... View Article

Current Issue

Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past. Tryon Edwards (1809-1894)

The Department of Defense recently underwent an internal review of opioid use within three major military treatment facilities through the Inspector General office. The report remains preliminary and has not yet been released to the... View Article

Current Issue

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” — Henry Ford (1863-1947)

October is Operation Bushmaster season for Uniformed Services University (USU) medical and nursing students.

Current Issue

“The doctor of the future will give no medication but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease”—Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931)”

The doctor of the future will give no medication but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease”—Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931)

Current Issue

“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” —Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

My wife’s family has maintained a cabin in Maine for over 100 years, idyllically set in a mature pine grove on a pristine lake shore. With the exception of a few necessary modifications to the... View Article

August 2018

“Science is basically an inoculation against charlatans.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson

In past columns, I have mentioned my penchant for science fiction.

Current Issue

“Meditation helps me to calm down.” —Lady Gaga

Recently I encountered two of my young adult daughters sitting on the same couch, both staring into their iPhones laughing.

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If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed

“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”—Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) My eldest daughter, 1st Lt. Susan Buckenmaier (fifth generation military in my family), recently completed a Master... View Article

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Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.

The modern corollary to the wisdom of Confucius would be Albert Einstein’s quote, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” For me, one of the greatest attractions during my 30-plus years in the medical profession is the humbling impact this career has on personal perceptions of what I perceive to “know.”

April 2018

When guns came into existence, so too did the natural right to a fair and reasonable defense against them

“When guns came into existence, so too did the natural right to a fair and reasonable defense against them.” —R. A. Delmonico I am a gun owner. I own quite a few pistols for defense... View Article

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It’s Up to All of Us

Editor-In-Chief, Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III, MD, COL (ret.), MC, USA “It’s up to all of us, the consumers, to take charge of our health. It’s almost like voting. It’s your responsibility.” — Anne Wojcicki Anne... View Article

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We are not makers of history. We are made by history

Editor-In-Chief, Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III, MD, COL (ret.), MC, USA — The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) I find this quote by Dr. King particularly poignant as I reflect back on my own career... View Article

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Apology is Only Egotism Wrong Side Out

—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) Despite our best efforts, bad things often happen to good people in medicine. Healthcare professionals are human and prone to error, as much as they would like to deny that... View Article

December 2017

Mission First, Soldiers Always!

~Anonymous This past October, I served as a staff platoon team leader for the annual Uniformed Services University (USU) Bushmaster exercise, which I have discussed in previous editorials.1 The training exercise is for senior nursing... View Article

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You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work?

“You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? – Medicine.” ~Tim Minchin *Editor’s note: This month’s editorial was co-written by retired Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker. A recent announcement of a very... View Article

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do…

Pam, our friends Karon and Toni, and I had been looking forward to a week sailing our Gemini 105Mc catamaran, Family Knot, exploring the Chesapeake Bay.

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From the Editor in Chief

“The current approach to the opioid epidemic is just as ineffective as managing a cholera outbreak by treating victims without ever bothering to find the source of contaminated water and provide access to safe alternatives.”... View Article

August 2017

“Take time for all things: Great haste makes great waste.” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Following the news on the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, euphemistically known as Obamacare, is akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion.

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Money can’t buy life

My wife, Pam, and I recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. For our celebration, we decided to give each other a trip to Las Vegas.

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“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” ― Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

I have spent the past week in a series of meetings hosted by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide a public forum to discuss the national response to the ongoing opioid epidemic. I was serving as the Uniformed Services University and Department of Defense representative on this issue.

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To the Editor-in-Chief:

In reference to “How Low To Go: The Continuing Controversy on BP Targets” published in the March 2017 issue:

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My Life Needs Editing

My commute to work in the Washington, DC, area is hell, to put it mildly. According to U.S. News and World Report, in 2015, Washington area drivers spent 75 hours on average in traffic, second only to Los Angeles drivers who averaged 81.

April 2017

“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.” —George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

This past week, I attended the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians (USAFP) annual meeting in Seattle.

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You are confined only by the walls you build yourself

The free, efficient and unobstructed flow of information is critical both in business and medicine.

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“A living dog is better than a dead lion.” – Ecclesiastes 9:4

For many, including myself, the political upheaval that has characterized the 2016 campaign and election has been unsettling.

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“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” —Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)

I recently took in the movie “Hacksaw Ridge” with my wife. Starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Mel Gibson, the movie dramatizes the heroics of Cpl. Desmond Thomas Doss (1919-2006), who served as a combat medic with the 77th Infantry Division in the Pacific theater of World War II, despite being a conscientious objector who refused to carry a weapon in combat.

December 2016

“The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.” Hippocrates (c. 460- c. 370 BC)

The classical Greek physician Hippocrates is considered the father of modern medicine and is credited for believing that disease was caused naturally and not due to supernatural forces or the gods. With this idea, medicine as a body of knowledge began its journey into the realm of science and the scientific method to drive medical understanding and therapeutic practice.

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Gentlemen, it is the microbes who will have the last word

After seven months of bickering and posturing by both parties in Congress, a bill allocating $1.1 billion to deal with the emerging Zika crisis was finally passed on Sept. 28, 2016.

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“Every positive value has its price in negative terms … the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.” — Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

One of the interesting aspects of writing this federal medicine column is friends, colleagues and readers who follow U.S. Medicine editorials feed me interesting unsolicited ideas for writing topics.

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Individual commitment to a group effort

The Maryland Governor’s Cup Yacht Race is the oldest and longest distance overnight sailing race in Maryland. This year marked the 43rd running of the race, traditionally held over the first weekend of August.

August 2016

It is curious that physical courage should be so common…

Like many Americans, I find the nightly news of late has been increasingly less palatable and more disturbing.

Editor in Chief

Humor is everywhere in that there’s irony in just about anything a human does.

Recently I was viewing a rather emotional national news piece showing a preteen girl learning how to administer naloxone.

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You recruit the soldier, but retain the family

Recently my youngest daughter turned 18, and — for the first time in 22 years — my wife Pam and I were suddenly not responsible for any children.

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Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

Sadly, like most Americans, O’Rourke’s humorous quote concerning death is representative of the lack of attention most folks pay this unavoidable destination we all eventually must face.

April 2016

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile

For some time now, I have had the privilege of expressing my opinions on federal medicine within U.S. Medicine as the editor-in-chief.

Editor in Chief

Life Moves Pretty Fast

If you don’t stop and look once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Beuller.
I have commented numerous times within this column on the daily stressors that federal medicine providers face within our large health system.

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Clearly there are always unintended consequences

...of any legislative or regulatory act that’s taken in the heat of battle.” Richard “Dick” Grasso was chairman and chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange from 1995 to 2003 and is credited for his efforts to restart the Exchange following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

Like too many Americans, I eat too much. If eating were a professional sport, I would be considered an accomplished athlete with an impressive career.

December 2015

Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”               — Tom PetersI have been ruminating for the past few months over the bureaucracy of federal medicine and the importance of selfless service to... View Article

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There is no higher religion than human service

To work for the common good is the greatest creed. — Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) Government service can be extremely trying at times. Last month, I touched on the difficulties of surviving the bureaucracy to which we submit ourselves each week in the care of our servicemembers and their families.

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These walls are funny

Occasionally, there is a movie that just seems to resonate with many groups and situations. The 1994 movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” directed by Frank Darabout was certainly one of those movies. It was, and remains, common for myself and work colleagues to refer to being “Shawshanked” whenever we are confronted with laborious federal bureaucratic rules that are ubiquitously enforced with little apparent forethought or purpose.

Editor in Chief

Doctors are Human Animals

They want to be loved, they are tribal, they instinctually favor stories over scientific evidence, they make mistakes, and even small gifts make them susceptible to being biased. If we took doctors seriously as human animals, we might hurt them — and they might hurt us - a lot less.

August 2015

Life’s hard. It’s even harder when you’re stupid

A friend and colleague recently used John Wayne’s quote after bringing a recent malpractice suit to my attention. The case involved an anesthesiologist, gastroenterologist and a medical assistant in Vienna, VA, who were involved in the care of a patient presenting for a screening colonoscopy.

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Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life

Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living — if you do it well... View Article

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In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence

“In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.” —... View Article