U.S. Navy – Desert Storm era
Dr. David Wood is one of the five sons of Sharon pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Wood. All five are physicians; four of them served in the United States Armed Forces.
When the Vietnam War was in full swing, sons Benjamin and Michael were in Canada – not to avoid the draft, but to attend medical school. While they were there, their draft numbers came up, so when they returned, they went into the army, but as doctors rather than privates.
Benjamin served a year in Long Binh, Vietnam, and completed his two-year obligation at Fort Bragg.
When Michael graduated from medical school in 1970, he went into a program called the Berry Plan, in which he could defer military service until he completed specialty training. He finished orthopedic surgery training at the Mayo Clinic in 1975 and served two years in the army in Heldelberg as an orthopedic surgeon.
John got his medical degree from the University of Virginia. The Air Force paid for two years of his medical school, so he served two years as an ophthalmologist at Wilford Hall in San Antonio.
David graduated from high school in 1977, a year after his father passed away.
“I grew up in a time when people didn’t talk about the military,” David said.
So seeking help from the armed forces to get through medical school wasn’t the first thing that crossed his mind. But it was the second thing.
“We had sort of sticker shock,” he said. When my brother went to medical school in Edmunton, tuition was $500 per year. When Arthur was in Penn State, tuition was $5,000. Six years later my first year’s tuition was $11,000.”
As his brother John had done, David applied for military scholarship programs. He was accepted into the Navy’s program, which paid for four years of medical school. That obligated him to serve four years on active duty, but he was able to defer that until he completed specialist training in ophthalmology.
Then he served four years with the Navy in Corpus Christi, Texas.
“I was of that generation that looked down upon the military,” he said, “but I saw it as a great opportunity to advance my skills as surgeon. I also got a deep respect for why we have a military, why we need a military, and how it works. My experience was very positive. I saw that the military made people better.”