Please refer to this page for all the exciting developments in military medicine at UNC Hospitals and School of Medicine

The University of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC Health Care are proud to have built a reputation for promoting a military friendly environment, an environment where all faculty, staff and students strive to support the men and women of the Armed Forces in any way that we can. In the past several years, there have been countless initiatives and special events which have laid the foundation for that reputation, and a few of those are listed below.

  • In a recent UNC Health Care News Room article, read about how far the Military Medicine Interest Group (MMIG) has come over the past year.  Student leadership reinvigorated the group and set the group up for incredible service and support opportunities both within the UNC Health System and to veterans around North Carolina.  Opportunities for outreach, service and networking that groups such as MMIG create are valuable not only to students with ties to the military, but also to the greater community in and around UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • UNC has continued to foster its ties with the military through the recently debuted Physician’s Assistant program.  The new program aims to increase North Carolinian’s access to care especially in the rural parts of North Carolina.  Students with ties to the military make up almost fifty percent of the incoming class, drawing on their unique set of skills and experiences to further their education. Read more at UNC Spotlight.
  • An article titled “Green Beret, White Coat” in the December edition of Vital Signs told the inspiring story of Karl Holt, a first year medical student and member of the MMIG. Karl served as a Green Beret in the Army Special Forces and an instructor and program coordinator at the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Command at Fort Bragg before coming to medical school, and faced countless obstacles along the way. Karl’s commitment to serving his community and his country should serve as inspiration for the UNC community and beyond, as well as a reminder of the sacrifices men and women in the military make for us on a daily basis. Read more on the UNC News Room website.
  • At the UNC Men’s Basketball Military Appreciation Day on December 6th, the student and faculty leadership of the Military Medicine Interest Group were recognized for their veteran service and fundraising efforts alongside Dr. Amy Jones, a third year Pediatrics resident at UNC, and an active member of the organization that the MMIG fundraising events support. To hear the whole story and watch the promotional video produced by UNC athletics, check out the December 10th edition of Vital Signs.
  • On November 12th, the MMIG student and faculty membership visited Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, NC. The student and faculty members were able to tour the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Command and observe training protocols throughout the Medic training program. In addition, physician leadership from the Special Operations community on base held question and answer sessions in which they provided advice to students for career development and satisfaction in military medical careers. The photo below was taken immediately before the tour, including a signed football helmet from UNC Head Coach Larry Fedora as a gift for the JSOMTC leadership to show our support!


  • On September 24th, faculty leaders and involved parties gathered to celebrate the new Physician Assistant Program at UNC, which will seat it’s first class in January. The PA program will serve our veterans and serve our state, by allowing former military medical personal to gain training and expertise that will translate into lifelong careers in medicine- in this case serving the desperate need for primary care providers in North Carolina and across the USA. For more information please see the following article from the UNCH newsroom.
  • The June edition of Vital Signs featured an article titled “A Good Heart”, which delineated the incredible life story of OUR VERY OWN Eric Strand, a proud member of the Military Medicine Interest Group and one of the founding members of the Military Family Support Program. We are so proud to have Eric as a member of the UNC Medicine family, and glad to see his accomplishments and triumphs recognized. To read the full article, please visit the webpage for the June edition of Vital Signs. Keep up the great work Eric, and keep inspiring us all!
  • In the May edition of Vital Signs there was an article detailing the career and service history of Dr. Sean Montgomery, the director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at UNC Hospitals. Dr. Montgomery served in the US Army, including multiple tours in Iraq, residency at Walter Reed Medical Center, and service at Andrews Air Force Base during the attacks of 9/11. Please read more about Dr. Montgomery’s experiences and dedication to serving his country and patients at UNC here.
  • Recently, on April 29th, 2015 UNC School of Medicine was honored to host the Commander for Joint Special Operations Medical Training (JSOMTC) COL Andrew Landers, M.D. to speak at Surgery Grand Rounds in Old Clinic Auditorium. COL Landers provided for the audience a detailed description of the fast-paced, hands-on, and intensive curriculum and training process involved in producing mission-ready Army and Navy Special Operations Medics. COL Landers was joined by LCDR Tim Cruickshank (PA-C), the Navy Dean for Special Operations Medical Training at JSOMTC, as well as several Army and Navy Special Operations Medics who are currently instructors/have completed the program. LCDR Cruickshank and his Navy Corpsmen presented to Dr. Cairns and UNC a commemorative paddle decorated with United States Navy badges and pins, and Col Landers and his Army Medic Instructors presented a commemorative plaque. Both of these gifts are deeply and sincerely valued by the UNC Community.

In the photo below (left to right): HM1 Nicholas Wiley, HM1 Samuel Clark, LCDR Cruickshank, Dr. Bruce Cairns, COL Landers, SFC McHugh, HMC Martinez. Clark, Wiley, and Martinez are all Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsmen / Special Operations Independent Duty Corpsmen and McHugh is an 18D Special Forces Medical Sergeant.

Commander for Joint Special Operations Medical Training

  • Also on April 29th, the UNC School of Medicine welcomed our newest member of the family into the M.D. Program Class of 2019, retired Army Sergeant Karl Holt. Sergeant Holt was formerly a Special Forces medic, and an instructor in Special Operations medical training at Fort Bragg, NC. Sergeant Holt was gravely injured in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2009, and has overcome a great deal of physical hardship and countless obstacles to be accepted as a medical student at UNC. Our sincerest congratulations go out to Sergeant Holt, and we look forward to watching his success in the School of Medicine and throughout his medical career. During his time applying to medical school, Holt was a strong advocate for the UNC Medic to PA program (set to start classes in 2016) along with Dr. Bruce Cairns. A brief interview with Sergeant Holt and Dr. Cairns featured on NPR’s morning edition can be found here. 
  • As of spring 2015, the Military Medicine Interest Group is proud to announce that we are launching our Military Family Support Program (MFSP) with the help and support of countless members of the UNC School of Medicine faculty and UNC Health Care staff. Along with former service faculty at Wake Forest and Brody Schools of Medicine, the MMIG and it’s leadership of UNC faculty are working to spread the military friendly and veteran oriented programs across the state of North Carolina, with UNC as the organizational hub. More information about these exciting new programs is available on our veteran service page.
  • Another exciting recent development is that an effort is being made by the MMIG with the help of the UNC SOM faculty to incorporate military medicine and veteran care into the Professional Development course of the new UNC TEC Curriculum. In order to promote improved care in the future for service members seen by UNC educated physicians, the incorporated course material would educate students about the barriers to health care that United States veterans face on a daily basis across the country, and about the unique health care needs of veterans and their families.
  • In the fall of 2014, a member of the MMIG and a first year Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program member was elected to be Foundation Phase Class President for the 2018 class of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, our very own Karli Gast! Congratulations to Karli on the beginning of a long and fruitful career in medicine!
  • In 2014, UNC Health Care received the Department of Defense’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the nation’s highest honor for going above and beyond the federal requirements to support employees who are members of the Guard and Reserve. Please read more details about the award on the UNC Health Care website below.

The award was presented to UNC Health Care at the annual Veteran’s Day event, and one of the Military Medicine Interest Group’s very own advisers was one of the faculty members to accept the award, in Dr. Tim Weiner! (Pictured third from left, along side the Freedom Award)

Employer Support Freedom Award

Also at the Veteran’s Day ceremony, UNC Health Care was truly honored to welcome our guest speaker Dr. Richard Jadick (CDR-ret. USNR), the most decorated physician of the Iraq War, and author of the powerful, gripping novel “On Call In Hell”. Dr. Jadick received the Bronze Star with a Combat V for Valor following his dedicated service during the Battle of Fallujah. It was recently announced that there are plans to make a full-length motion picture based on CDR Jadick’s book, so congratulations to Dr. Jadick!

  • In 2012, UNC and Blue Cross/Blue Shield announced a new university Physician’s Assistant (PA) program aimed at providing U.S. Army veterans returning from active duty an opportunity to use their military field experience and work ethic to earn a degree applicable to a civilian career, while also filling the state of North Carolina’s desperate need for providers of primary health care. An article describing the desperate need for programs like this across the nation can be found on the Stars and Stripes website, here. In addition, more information about the Medic to P.A. program can be found at the School of Medicine website below.

  • Since returning to UNC Hospitals in 2006, Dr. Martin McCaffrey (a UNC Neonatologist) has taken the initiative to work with case managers to provide much-needed support to military families coping with the severe illness of their newborn children receiving care at UNC. One of the many aspects of support that Dr. McCaffrey provides is a night of rest and recuperation for military families at the Arrowhead Inn (the gracious civilian partners of the project) in Durham, NC through his project “Operation Liberty Pass”. Please read more about Dr. McCaffrey’s life story and his continued dedication to serving those men and women who serve our nation below.

  • UNC Hospitals is also proud to offer an exciting opportunity for Advanced Medic Instructors to complete training rotations in the Burn Unit, as well as intensive care and surgical units. Dr. Bruce Cairns, a former surgeon in the United States Navy, has been integral to the process of developing these training opportunities of members of the armed forces at UNC hospital. Dr. Cairns’ history and professional career, as well as his involvement with this program were the highlight of the March news from UNC Health Care. (Link to full story)

Please find more information about this unique training opportunity through the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center website below.