'All in the same fraternity': Retired surgeon general runs all-veteran family practice
TORONTO -- Though he retired from military service years ago, one former surgeon general is still answering the medical call of duty.
Dr. Hans Jung’s family practice near Ottawa treats exclusively veteran patients.
“The bond, even if I’ve never seen them once before, is immediate,” he told CTV National news. “There is a sense we are all in the same fraternity.”
For the veterans at his Orleans, Ont., clinic, Jung provides a unique service. “He understands what we are going through, what we have gone through -- and what's coming next,” said Serge Millen, who lost both hands when a grenade exploded in Germany.
An immigrant from South Korea, Jung first joined the military in 1981 while in medical school. His intent was to serve for just three years, but Jung’s military career would go on to span more than three decades, retiring in 2012. He became the first and only visible minority to become the surgeon general and wound up running the multi-national Kandahar hospital in Afghanistan where he oversaw 6,300 medical personnel.
Part of his work has involved efforts to reduce stigma around the mental wellness of active and veteran military personnel. He was able to implement changes, including pre- and post-deployment screenings for mental health issues.
There’s still much work to be done in that area, he said.
“The next real phase is managing of stigma in general so that individuals see their challenges as no different than if they have diabetes or heart disease,” he said.
For now, his family practice provides a private, stigma-free safe space for veterans.
“They can feel more comfortable in explaining their situation knowing that they don't have to go into nitty-gritty details and try to convince the other person what it was like,” he said. “I was there. I understand that.”