Written by Barb Boose, guest blogger & editor of ‘DMU Magazine’
As we reflect on the year that’s ending and the new one ahead, it’s a good time to remember the men and women serving our country here and abroad.
Many Des Moines University alumni have served or are serving in the military, including Walter Rustmann, D.O., ’95, [pictured at right] currently in charge of all the ICU care under U.S. Air Force direction in Iraq.
“The Air Force was looking for a critical care physician to be in charge of its operations in Iraq, as ICU director and senior critical care and aeromedical evacuation consultant,” he explains. “My name came up as one of the more experienced critical care physicians.”
Dr. Rustmann enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 19, became a PA on the GI Bill, then attended Des Moines University on an Air Force scholarship. He was chief of critical care and pulmonary medicine at Wilford Hall Air Force Medical Center, the Air Force’s largest medical facility in San Antonio, TX. Prior to his current tour in Iraq, he was practicing at Shannon Clinic in San Angelo, TX.
This is his second deployment to Iraq. He also has served in Afghanistan and Romania, where he taught courses for NATO allies on combat medical care procedures designed to increase survival in wartime. Now, in addition to his duties in Balad, Iraq, he taught the first aeromedical evacuation course to a group of Iraqis.
In the Air National Guard Reserves, 147th Medical Group, since 2005, Dr. Rustmann has always had a backpack ready, so he can be on 36-hour notice for his country.
“The military has given me everything I have,” he says. “I’m caring for 18- and 19-year-olds who are putting their lives on the line. There’s nothing more noble I can do. These kids are doing it every day.”
If you’re a current DMU student or graduate that is serving in the military, please contact Barb Boose at Barbara.Boose@dmu.edu. She is working on a story for an upcoming issue of ‘DMU Magazine’ on our courageous military men and women.