News: Deployment to Afghanistan turns Navy instructor into student
Story by Cpl. Clay Beyersdorfer
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – For as knowledgeable as U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Grabo is in the field of trauma and clinical care, he never has had the opportunity to truly practice what he taught.
As successful a trauma care surgeon as he is, Grabo had never been able to do it in a deployed setting.
That all changed when Grabo deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, where he serves as the chief of trauma at the Role 3 Multi-National Medical Unit hospital.
In his role, Grabo stays busy, whether it is coordinating patient movement in and out of the hospital, or supervising every medical case and all trauma resuscitations done in Regional Command (South).
On top of that, he serves as the liaison for the Kandahar Regional Military Hospital, where Afghan National Security Forces personnel are transported to if they are injured in battle.
With all the movement and operations he oversees, Grabo couldn’t be happier.
“This is more of a leadership position than I have ever had before,” he said. “But I love what I do. It is challenging, but it is a completely patient-focused job, and that is what keeps me going.”
His role allows him to see first hand the battle injuries service members sustain, and being able to treat them and be as hands on as possible.
That concept is something he teaches back stateside at the Navy Trauma Training Center in Los Angeles.
In what he calls one of the “two best jobs in the Navy,” Grabo is assigned as one of two instructors tasked with training both enlisted and officer personnel of the U.S. Navy on how to properly deal with trauma cases when working in a deployed environment.
The month-long course is specifically designed for those personnel who have deployment orders.
On top of being an instructor, Grabo works as a trauma care surgeon at the Los Angeles County and University of Southern California Medical Center.
Even though he teaches medical care in the theater-operational environment, his current tour is Grabo’s first combat assignment.
“It’s an honor to be here and serve alongside these people, I have learned a lot,” he said. “I’m learning something new everyday.”
Grabo, who went to medical school at Georgetown University, admitted that teaching the things he now does in Afghanistan can be a challenge, but now that he has the experience, he is ready to share his knowledge.
“When I first got the assignment at NTTC, I was excited, but wished I had been able to deploy so I could really be hands on and show my students what it is really like to handle trauma cases in theater,” he said. “Now that I have been here, and have continued to learn, I will come back a stronger instructor. I am truly grateful for this experience, and I intend to make the most of it when I head back home.”
Although his current deployment is his first overseas, Grabo previously served on the U.S.S. Enterprise as the ship surgeon, as well as serving as a fellow in critical care at the hospital at the University of Pennsylvania
Grabo credits the Navy for allowing him to grow in the medical field.
“My time in has been great,” he said. “ The Navy has been supportive of what I want to do in my life, as well as in my own career.”
He also takes pride in being able to serve his country overseas.
“I am proud to be here, and be what we in our generation feel the call to do, to protect our country,” Grabo said. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”