Gratitude from an Indian-American woman who served in the U.S. Navy

Gratitude from an Indian-American woman who served in the U.S. Navy

November 10, 2021 | Author: Dr. Rupa Dainer, MD
Occasionally someone asks me to talk about my experiences in the military from any one of a number of perspectives.  Sometimes it’s from the perspective of a physician, especially one who has completed the medical training entirely with the military system and is an advocate for physician-led care for our warriors, other times its the perspective of a woman in the military – one who was deployed to the front lines well before women were “allowed” in combat, or from the perspective of a mother who was deployed to a war zone when her children were just toddlers.  Rarely, however, am I asked to speak about my perspective as an Indian-American in the military. I was asked to do so once before – in 2001 – please see above the India Today article that was written at that time.  I am very thankful to be asked to do so again.  Much has changed in the world since then, and many things remain quite the same.

I look back on my 17-year career in the United States Navy and have so many emotions.   I am grateful – for the tremendous education I received as a student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; I am sad – for the pain and suffering I encountered while caring for our Nation’s wounded warriors and injured civilians in Afghanistan; I am proud – of the incredible work my team and I did to heal those in harm’s way.  

When I finished my service as a Commander in the US Navy I had accomplished the goals I set forth 20-some years ago – to blaze new trails for women in the military as one of the few women and mothers deployed to the front lines, to serve in combat as a physician, and to do all that as the daughter of immigrants who had carefully instilled in her a love for this country and the freedom for which it stands.  There were many obstacles along the way, not the least of which centered around my Indian heritage and the fact that I am a woman – while it would be naive to say those challenges no longer exist, I can say with conviction that our world is evolving towards a better tomorrow, and I am thrilled to have played a part.

A Naval officer, sharp-shooter, and nationally recognized pediatric anesthesiologist, Dr. Dainer brings more than a decade of experience working in operating rooms in a variety of settings from iconic institutions to temporary field units on the battlefield around the world. Prior to joining Pediatric Specialists of Virginia (PSV) in October 2015, Dr. Dainer was Chief of Pediatric Anesthesiology for Walter Reed – Bethesda, Maryland. During her 17 years of military service, Dr. Dainer participated in medical missions around the world, including Afghanistan where her team was awarded the Presidential Joint Unit Commendation. As Chief Surgical Officer at PSV, Dr. Dainer leads multiple surgical specialties to build on the foundation she established as Medical Director of PSV’s Ambulatory Surgery Center.

She holds undergraduate degrees in Music Performance and Cell and Molecular Biology from The Catholic University of America, and a medical degree from the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine – Bethesda, Maryland. She also completed a residency in Anesthesiology at the National Naval Medical Center, and a fellowship in Pediatric Anesthesiology at Children’s National Medical Center – Washington, D.C. Dr. Dainer serves on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Anesthesiology – the credentialing organization for all anesthesiologists in the United States. Here she chairs/serves on multiple committees devoted to ensuring and promoting the highest standards of practice. Additionally, Dr. Dainer is an accomplished marksman (pistols and rifles), musician, and holds multiple state records as a powerlifter.