Military service brings pandemic leader here

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KUWAIT CITY, July 1: “I will be deployed as an emergency physician at Camp Arifjan, but if asked to share my expertise in dealing with the coronavirus, specifically the delta variant, I’d be happy to help out,” says Dr. Alex Garza, commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, responding to a question sent by the Arab Times during his on-air interview with host Sarah Fentem of St. Louis Public Radio in Missouri. Board-certified in emergency medicine, Dr. Alex Garza will be deployed for four months to Kuwait this July as part of his US military service and will serve as an emergency room physician at Camp Arifjan which is the main logistics base. He was supposed to be deployed to Kuwait in April, but got delayed.

Dr. Alexander G. Garza (GRAD PH ’03) is the SSM Health Chief Community Health Officer and Incident Commander for the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force

Dr. Garza is a colonel and has been in the US Army Reserves for over 20 years. “I joined the Army Reserves when I was a second-year resident in emergency medicine,” he said. “I do believe in service to others, which was really the reason I joined. I’m deploying with a group of individuals whom I’ve never met to go and staff a hospital,” reports quoting Dr. Garza. This isn’t his first time going to Kuwait. “Back in 2003 and 2004, I deployed out of the same camp that I’m returning to. That was the very beginning of the Iraq war. So we were there at the initial part of the war. It was carved out of the desert, not a lot of amenities. Since then, it’s been a built up military base and fixed hospital,” Dr. Garza added. He has received numerous awards for his service including the Bronze Star and the Combat Action Badge. Dr. Garza has over 13 years practicing and teaching in higher education, according to his bio on the SSM Health page. Before joining SSM Health, he was an Associate Dean and Professor at the Saint Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice.

He has published numerous scientific papers on original research in peer reviewed journals and lectured nationally and internationally. Previously, he served as Assistant Secretary and Chief Medical Officer to the US Department of Homeland Security. He legislated health, medical and biodefense authority for the DHS and played a critical role in protecting the US from threats of terrorism. Dr. Garza is also a Colonel with over 20 years of service in the US Army Reserves. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and serves as the Command Surgeon for the 352 Civil Affairs Command. He has received numerous awards for his service including the Bronze Star and the Combat Action Badge. Dr. Garza received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City, a medical degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Saint Louis University. By Marlon Aquino Malinao Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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