How I Came to the Military
Dr. Daniel Perl describes how he was recruited from his work at Mount Sinai to work on traumatic brain injury in the military.
I had been working as a brain pathologist
in New York at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, which is a major academic medical center directing
their neuropathology unit for 25 years, mostly studying diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease
and Parkinson’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. And the Uniformed Services University came
to me and said that they were trying to recruit somebody with my skills and background, and
they said, “Before you settle on this, there’s somebody you need to meet with to talk about
this possible opportunity.” I said, “Who?” And they said, “It’s Dr. Charles Rice. And Dr. Rice is the President of the Uniformed
Services University.” And basically he said that, “The reason
why we’re interested in hiring you is to study traumatic brain injury in the military. And traumatic brain injury in the military
is the number one health issue for the military. It’s a major problem that we really need
to better understand.” And I said I understood that. But he said, “You need to understand a little
more about this; namely that, because it’s so importan,t it’s what we call in the military
part of the mission.” And he said, “You probably don’t really
understand what that implies that when something is part of the mission for the military, we
do it and we do it without really concern in terms of the cost involved or the people
that have to be asked to accomplish it, whether it’s taking a beachhead or a mountain top
or solving a medical problem.” I’d never heard anybody really talk that
way and I looked him straight in the eye and I said, “Do you really mean that?” And he said, “Absolutely, I give you my
word on that.” And that basically has been what’s happened. The decision to join the Department of Defense
and work on this problem is one of the best decisions I ever made. This is the most important work I’ve ever
done. I feel like every day I go to work I know
why I'm going to work and why it’s important and that I have the opportunity to make really
truly an important contribution to these service members, their families and the nation.
Posted on BrainLine December 13, 2017.
Dr. Perl is a Professor of Pathology at USUHS and Director of the CNRM's Brain Tissue Repository, where he has established a state-of-the-art neuropathology laboratory dedicated to research on the acute and long-term effects of traumatic brain injury among military personnel.