Thomas Fluent, M.D., provides psychiatric care to Health System patients, U.S. soldiers and enemy detainees overseas
Thomas Fluent, M.D., says a key factor in his success as a military psychiatrist was to never lose sight of the humanity of the people he treated, nor of his own humanity. This approach served him well during a recent nine-month tour in Afghanistan where he was charged with the wellbeing of more than 1,000 detainees at Bagram Airfield as well as the U.S. soldiers tasked with guarding the often violent and dangerous men.
“A cynic might say, ‘who cares, they’re the enemy,’” says Fluent, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UMMS and medical director of ambulatory psychiatric services at UMHS. ”But part of the mission was also to fight the insurgency by demonstrating to these men and their communities that our way was really the better way, our values the better values.”
Fluent, also a captain in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps with more than 20 years of active duty and reserve service, quickly realized that as a highly visible, high-ranking officer, his behavior spoke volumes to both the detainees and the guards. Read the rest of this entry »