War Doc: Local Trauma Surgeon Joins Military Reserves

A well-respected trauma surgeon at Ben Taub Hospital has made an unusual career decision, one that could land him in one of the world's most dangerous places. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, the transition from trauma doctor to army doctor, possibly in Iraq, isn't that big of a stretch for Dr. Thomas Granchi.

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As the medical director of the city's busiest emergency center, Granchi has seen it all. From auto accidents to gunshot wounds, he's treated nearly every type of traumatic injury possible. Now he'll use those skills as a newly commissioned officer, a major in the United States Army Reserve's Medical Corps. He hopes to treat wounded soldiers in Iraq.

"I'm mid-career, I'm an experienced trauma surgeon, our nation is at war and men and woman are suffering. They need the care of experienced trauma surgeons, so it's my opportunity to help."

Granchi will go through a 3-week boot camp and will be assigned a 90-day deployment either at a field hospital in Iraq or at an Army medical facility in the United States where wounded soldiers are taken for treatment. He says the injuries he'll see as an Army Reserve doctor won't be much different than what he sees everyday here in Houston.

"They'll have more shrapnel, more explosions. The gunshot wounds tend to be high velocity. I think for the most part it's going to be much the same. There are going to be some quiet days and some very busy days and I'll do what I know how to do."

It's a nervous time in the Granchi household these days as his two school-aged girls prepare for the reality that their father is about to become an Army doctor. His wife Jennifer says the family fully supports his decision to serve his country.

"It kind of snuck up on me because this is something he looked into by himself and then he said I want to do this. At first of course, you're like, oh, wait a minute, but it's something he wants to do and I'm very proud of him."

At his swearing-in ceremony at Ben Taub Hospital, Granchi was welcomed to the military reserves by former Army officer and current chief operating officer of the Harris County Hospital District George Masi.

"He's going to put a uniform on today, but his job is going to remain the same. It's going to be trauma surgeon. He's been taking care of the community who are a very wonderful patient population to serve and he's going to start serving another very worthy patient population, soldiers, air, sailers, Marines and their family members."

Granchi had to go through a rigorous, 6-month application process to become an Army Reserve doctor.

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