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From military missions to medical missions: US veterans bring their expertise to AdventHealth

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AdventHealth, one of the nation’s largest faith-based health care systems, operates in several of the top states with the highest percentages of working veterans: Texas (2nd nationally), Florida (3rd), North Carolina (8th), and Illinois (10th).

Thousands of these veterans choose AdventHealth for the next chapters of their career and support the organization’s mission to extend the healing of Christ.

Recently, AdventHealth was awarded on the Forbes list of America’s Best Employers for Veterans 2023.

In Volusia County, one husband and wife team are both U.S. Navy veterans and they recently relocated to the Daytona Beach area to perform procedures at AdventHealth: colorectal surgeon Dr. Matthew Wilson and general surgeon Dr. Tara Wilson.

Dr. Matthew Wilson

Dr. Matthew Wilson reflects fondly on his nine years of service as a surgeon in the U.S. Navy.

“I felt the training I received was excellent,” he said. “The people I worked with were top notch, and some of the experiences I had, I never would have had these opportunities without the Navy.”

One such experience was during his deployment onboard the USS KEARSARGE (LHD3) in 2013.

After leaving Norfolk, Virginia, the crew crossed the Atlantic Ocean and stopped overnight in Rota, Spain. From there, they entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar and ultimately spent a few days of liberty on the Island of Cyprus. From there, he recounts a one-of-a-kind experience traversing the Suez Canal in Egypt.

“That was quite a site,” Dr. Matthew Wilson said. “Over the next few months, I was able to see areas of the world I otherwise never would have, including Eilat, Israel, Aqaba, Jordan, and Dubai, UAE. Those were some good times. But ultimately, being able to serve the men and women in uniform, as well as veterans and dependents, was the most rewarding part of my military service. It was definitely part of my life I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

Dr. Tara Wilson

His wife Dr. Tara Wilson also cherishes her time of service in the military.

“When people think of the U.S. Navy, many envision the posters of Navy ships steaming along in formation. Others may think of CNN news clips of a Navy destroyer sending Tomahawk missiles into a war zone. But many people don’t automatically think of the humanitarian missions conducted by the U.S. Navy. Those missions turned out to be a very big part of my 16 years of active service in the Navy,” said Dr. Tara Wilson.

Her first humanitarian mission was in Thailand in the aftermath of the Southeast Asia Tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004, as part of the 7th Communications Battalion with the U.S. Marine Corps.

"After residency, when I was practicing general surgery, my name was again called for what would be considered atypical missions,” she reflected. “My first mission was to support anti-piracy activities off the coast of Somalia in 2009, not a usual task for a surgeon.”

In January 2010, she was again tasked with humanitarian aid to Haiti after the devastating earthquake that hit on Jan. 12, 2010. Within 48 hours of the earthquake, she was flown to the aircraft carrier USS CARL VINSON and provided surgical care for many of the Haitians who suffered catastrophic injuries from the event.

She added that serving as the director of surgical services for Operation Continuing Promise in 2010 was one of the highlights of her naval career.

Aboard the USS IWO JIMA (LHD5), she visited eight different countries in Central and South America and performed over 350 surgeries to very underserved patients who would otherwise never have received this care.

“Overall, my time in the Navy was some of the most rewarding time of my professional career,” she recalls. “It opened avenues for professional growth as well as personal experiences that cannot be obtained anywhere else.”

Dr. Wilson

Today, Dr. Matthew Wilson is now a member of AdventHealth Medical Group and is part of a team of over 400 health care providers, including 250 primary care physicians and specialists in Flagler, Lake and Volusia counties. He joined the practice of colorectal surgeons, Dr. Timothy Tolland and Dr. Andrew Ritter, who have cared for Volusia County residents for more than 35 years.

Additionally, Dr. Tara Wilson is a surgeon with North Florida Surgeons. This physician group will soon have a dedicated surgical clinic at a medical office building and ambulatory surgery center currently under construction at AdventHealth Daytona Beach and slated to open in early 2024.

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