MedWatch Today: Military Veteran Neurosurgeons Specialize in Helping Other Veterans

Med Watch Today

Two of Community Health System’s neurosurgeons have more in common than just their dedication to treating patients. Lt. Col. Dr. Ian Johnson and Dr. Derek Taggard are both decorated veterans, and both feel called to provide top notch medical care to the men and women who have served our country.

Dr. Taggard spent years as an Officer Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. Now you can find the Air Force veteran helping patients like retired Air Force Chief Ronald Compton.

The neurosurgeon said, “When he came to me, he had had some terrible pain in his leg. Anytime he stood up or tried to walk, that it really limited his activities, his daily living, and his ability to truly function independently.”

Ronald needed surgery on his spinal cord due to arthritis. But before getting into Ronald’s medical history, Dr. Taggard stated, “We were able to share some of our own Air Force experiences… Whether it was some sort of basic training or deployment experience, and having that be a nice way to alleviate fears and let downs that people come into an appointment with.”

Ronald said he immediately connected with Dr. Taggard.

“I was impressed from the get go. When I seen that he was (a) graduate of the Air Force Academy and the discipline that they put on those boys up there and he graduated with honors… Case over, let’s get this done,” exclaimed Ronald.

The trust and foundation was built between doctor and patient because of their military bond.

Lt. Col. Dr. Johnson is also a neurosurgeon in the Community Health System.

“Being able to provide neurosurgical care to active duty members and to reservists and to veterans is important to me. I think, I feel as though I’m a very good provider of care, and I feel that they need that and not everybody’s getting in line to do it,” said Lt. Col. Dr. Johnson.

He said when a physician who is a veteran like himself treats a veteran, the walls come down easier.

Lt. Col. Dr. Johnson said, “I always hear the first five or ten minutes are gonna be about their experience in the military. And then it’s nice because I personally, and Dr. Taggard can personally bond with them and establish credibility with them early.”

That credibility led Ronald to place his trust Dr. Taggard, and his spinal surgery in April was successful.

“I’m just totally grateful, I mean, if I wouldn’t have found him, I wouldn’t be sitting here today without any pain in this leg,” said Ronald.

Dr. Taggard added, “I truly couldn’t be any happier for him. He had an amazing response to surgery.”

Both surgeons said they’re glad they can provide care to local patients so people don’t have to travel out of the Valley, especially for those military veterans.

“They served this country and we owe them that care,” ended Lt. Col. Dr. Johnson.

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