John “Rob” Marsh, a physician with the Army’s Delta Force was recovering in Germany from serious wounds suffered during an attack in Somalia known as the Blackhawk Incident–the fierce battle on the streets of Mogadishu that left 18 dead and 73 injured. He had led the medical team who saved many of the 73 and was subsequently himself badly wounded.
His home town set up a 24-hour prayer vigil, he recalls and, “I turned the corner. …I survived.” Those prayers saved my life.”
The 59-year old Marsh retired from the Army in 1996 and decided to repay the 213 residents from the small community of Middlebrook, Va. Dr. Marsh, one of many decorated medical doctors, has been running the only medical clinic in Middlebrook. He recently opened a new and bigger clinic in the middle of a truck stop off interstate 81.
For his dedication and service to his neighbors in this rural local, now including a roving fleet of long-haul truckers–he has just been named Country Doctor of the Year!
That award is given by Staff Care, a physician staffing company. It is meant to recognize the kind of rural doctors who still treat entire communities from cradle to grave– runny noses to failing hearts; the kind who still make house calls and, in their spare time, might fight fires, teach Sunday school and do farm chores with neighbors.
When he heard that the owner of White’s Travel Center wanted to include a medical center, just one of a handful of truck stop clinics nationwide, he saw opportunities.
He saw a way to treat truckers, a notoriously sedentary workforce known for bad diets, poor sleep and long hours driving. They are beginning to understand the need for better health. This will enable him to better pay for staff made up currently of a nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant, medical students and a nursing staff that includes his wife, Barbara.
Today he is very busy. More locals come to his clinic than truckers. Eventually, he hopes to add another doctor.
It is stories of Americans like Dr. Marsh who reflect the character of our Land and people–The United States of America!