Dr. Jacobson retires from U.S. Air Force
© Dr. Michael D. Jacobson, D.O. Do not reproduce this article without permission.
Editor’s note: Health-related articles written by Dr. Jacobson will return to this page next month.
Dr. Michael Jacobson, CHM Medical Director, retired from the U.S. Air Force on June 30 after 13 years of service, preceded by seven years of service in the U.S. Army. Brig. Gen. Timothy Jex, U.S. Air Force (ret.) presided over Dr. Jacobson’s retirement ceremony, held May 13. Dr. Jacobson received the Meritorious Service Medal for his career accomplishments and particularly for his work with the Operational Graduate Medical Education program.
Dr. Jacobson will continue to work with CHM and is exploring new ways to serve ministry members.
Dr. Jacobson began working with CHM in 1995. A colleague knew of his desire to help Christians with their healthcare and told him about CHM. He reached out to ministry leadership and was brought on as a medical consultant.
“I serve CHM members in four areas,” he explained. “One is providing information on healthcare subjects in my monthly articles in Heartfelt Magazine. I’m available to members to answer questions specific to their personal health circumstances. I perform case reviews for the CHM leadership team when a medical perspective is needed, and I help with policy reviews when the ministry’s Guidelines are updated.”
During a 2007 medical conference, an Air Force recruiter asked Dr. Jacobson if he’d consider returning to active duty. Dr. Jacobson at the time worked extensively with CHM and New Destiny Treatment Center (NDTC), an Ohio-based drug and alcohol treatment center. After discussing Air Force service with the recruiter, Dr. Jacobson talked to Rev. Howard Russell, CHM President and CEO, as well as the NDTC leadership team. “Howard and everyone else was tremendously supportive and encouraged me to join the Air Force while staying involved in both ministries,” he said. (In his retirement he will also work with NDTC.)
Because of his Army flight surgeon experience, Dr. Jacobson wanted to do the same thing in the Air Force. A flight surgeon, he explained, “takes care of the air crew members and their families. We go where the fight is and provide direct clinical service to support military members and operations.”
His first assignment was as a flight medicine commander at Langley Air Force Base, Va. From there, he was deployed to the Middle East where he cleared patients for aeromedical evacuation. He also served as a chief of medical staff. In 2009 Dr. Jacobson was transferred to Whiteman Air Force Base (Mo.) where he also served as medical staff chief.
In 2011 Dr. Jacobson transferred to Wright Patterson Air Force Base (Ohio), where he completed a master’s degree in public health and a residency in aerospace medicine. In 2013 he was promoted to colonel. “At that time I was providentially diverted from an operational assignment to Florida,” he said. “Instead, I was selected to remain at Wright Patterson as the inaugural director of a program to train future flight surgeons in family and aerospace medicine.”
As director of Operational Graduate Medical Education, Dr. Jacobson helped build the training courses from just a few residents and one civilian affiliate to 56 residents training in 15 different programs in pediatrics and family, emergency and internal medicine. “Basically, we built a clinical training pipeline for future Air Force flight surgeons,” he said.
“What energizes me is building things, building people, creating, to lead or command, and to experience community in the process,” he said. “But all of that is swallowed up in a higher purpose of wanting people to know and experience the goodness of God—a purpose I’ll continue to pursue during my retirement. I see CHM as a ministry that lifts people’s burdens and gives credit to God for who He is.”
Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.