William P. Clifford, JD, MD, FS, recently returned to the College’s Family Medicine Residency after spending four months in Afghanistan with The Alabama Army National Guard.
In addition to his family medicine training, Clifford serves as the lead flight surgeon for Army National Guard Aviation Units in Alabama.
Clifford is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, headquartered in Birmingham, and received his clinical training at the College of Community Health Sciences, which is a regional branch campus to the School of Medicine.
While in medical school, Clifford joined the Alabama National Guard and, simultaneously with his medical studies, attended the Officer Basic Leadership Course. He then attended the United States Army Flight Surgeon School where he graduated among the top of his class of Army physicians from all over the country.
“I really enjoy helping soldiers in combat and cannot imagine a higher calling,” Clifford says.
While in Afghanistan, Clifford was the only American physician for United States and allied NATO forces on the Army base in Kabul. With the help of medics, Clifford provided trauma, emergency, aviation, and primary care medical services to all allied personnel including injured Afghans. He coordinated the evacuation of injured and ill personnel from the United States treatment facility to NATO hospitals and served as the medical liaison for public health teams among others.
Reflecting back on his time in Afghanistan, Clifford remembers sitting in the back of a C-17 diving into the airfield thinking, “Things will never be the same.”
“They never will,” he says.
Clifford’s service has had a significant impact on his life. “When you witness the incredible sacrifices being made every day by young Americans, you realize how blessed we are.”
After completion of his residency, Clifford plans to apply for a military fellowship program that will better enable him to serve his nation while continuing to serve as a flight surgeon for the Army National Guard.