Academy medic earns Bronze Star for deeds in Afghanistan

Capt. Jason Rogers, right, and Maj. Jeff Lewis, left, perform a surgical operation in Afghanistan July 3, 2009. Captain Rogers, a physician assistant with the 10th Medical Group, received a Bronze Star Medal during a 10th Air Base Wing commander?s call Jan. 26, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capt. Jason Rogers, right, and Maj. Jeff Lewis, left, perform a surgical operation in Afghanistan July 3, 2009. Captain Rogers, a physician assistant with the 10th Medical Group, received a Bronze Star Medal during a 10th Air Base Wing commander?s call Jan. 26, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A physician assistant with the 10th Medical Group earned a Bronze Star medal while deployed to Afghanistan from June to December 2009 and learned some important things during his time downrange.

"I learned ... some great things about myself and reinforced other things that I already knew about the importance of faith in family, friends and God during times of trial," said Capt. Jason Rogers, who returned from post-deployment leave recently and who received the medal during a 10th Air Base Wing commander's call Jan. 26.

"I'd like to believe that I increased my medical knowledge and ability," Captain Rogers said. "I became convinced that great work is being done in Afghanistan."

Col. (Dr.) Christopher McNulty, commander of the Academy's Acute Care Clinic, first met Captain Rogers at the airport upon his return from deployment.

"I knew about the Bronze Star he'd earned, and as such, expected to meet a most impressive man," Doctor McNulty said. "I was not disappointed. He's a most talented medical provider, a polished officer, a devoted father and husband and a remarkable man."

Captain Rogers began his military career as an enlisted Soldier. He earned his commission through the Army's Officer Candidate school before attending physician assistant school.

"(That experience) helped a great deal with understanding and working within the combined-operations community," he said. While deployed, he was assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Forward Surgical Team in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan.

The Bronze Star citation cited Captain Rogers' service as being "vital to the unyielding prosecution of the Global War on Terrorism." He traveled to Heart Province to take part in a medical civil affairs program, or MEDCAP, in the midst of combat operations in the province.

The special operations community in Afghanistan focused on inspiring and fostering goodwill among the population and providing direct humanitarian support. The Forward Surgical Team provided direct medical and surgical care to coalition forces, contractors and local national civilians, regardless of whether their injuries were battle or non-battle related.

"We saw patients at least twice a week from the local communities and worked with military, governmental and nongovernmental entities to facilitate transport and care of complicated injured and ill patients," he said.

The medic's thoughts and feelings about Afghanistan remain vivid.

"I feel honored to have been able to serve my country and the good people of Afghanistan in this capacity," he reflected. "I was fortunate to ... observe and associate with truly heroic individuals. Many of them are still there quietly sacrificing for the benefit of others. I appreciate the people of Afghanistan, and I'm moved by their struggle for peace and freedom from oppression and terrorism. As a family, we continue to support the efforts of those serving and sacrificing for this cause and pray for their success."