Atlanta doctor, reservist heads to Kuwait for first time

Atlanta doctor, reservist heads to Kuwait for first time

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Doctors routinely save lives, but a local doctor is going the extra mile to do just that. Dr. Jonathan Beitler is going about 7,000 miles to help out our country. Beitler is an oncologist, and soon he'll be dodging bullets as he saves lives.    

Beitler, with the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University, says it was a family friend who suggested he go into oncology. He says oncology is all about physics, and it's the only science in which he excels.  If you ask patients Rick Lester, who Beitler treated in 2010 for stage four throat cancer, physics isn't his only skill.

"He's one of the most gifted people I've ever met. He took so much time with me," said Lester.

In the beginning, Beitler struggled with going to medical school or joining the Army. Both were his passions.

"I applied for the Army scholarship. Got it, and then my father said, ‘You're my only son, my oldest child. You got into medical school. You're going to medical school,'" said Beitler.

For the past 29 years, Beitler has been able to save lives in the office and in the field. He's been an active member of the Army National Guard as a pilot. At 55, he's going on his first overseas mission to Kuwait as a flight surgeon. Beitler says even with all of his medical training, he was all ears at his recent combat lifesaver training.

"One of the first things you have to think about is, what are the lines of sight?  Who's watching you to shoot you and other rescuers while you're rendering aid? And it's a big deal to think about," said Beitler.

Beitler says he is looking forward to his new mission, saving lives and helping people. Savings lives is something he does every day, only this time it means putting his own life at risk.

"With your own hands, you can do something really neat and know you have made a difference," said Beitler.

In addition to serving in the Army National Guard, Beitler is also a pilot for Angel Flights, an organization that provides free flights for charitable and medical needs.

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