A career in the armed services and one in chiropractic are similar in that both involve adjustments. A chiropractor gives adjustments to patients, while soldiers make adjustments in battle. Captain Dr. Scott Smith is one of the few to work in both capacities in Iraq. As both a chiropractor and a soldier, he was able to serve his fellow man while serving his country.
Smith is now in his twentieth year in the military serving in the Army National Guard, Army Reserves and on active duty. As his commitment to country has always come first, the path to his degree was unlike most other students. He had to suspend his chiropractic studies on two occasions while he completed military training and service.
In 1999, Smith was in Tri V when he was called away to Officers Candidate School. He re-enrolled at the College, but was forced to abandon his studies again during Tri VII while he attended U.S. Army Flight School. It would be a two-year absence.
Although away from CCCKC for an extended time, his desire to complete his degree did not wane. He came back to the College to re-enroll yet again. The date of his return was Sept. 11, 2001. The events of that day changed our nation and our military forever. Smith finished his degree, graduating in December 2002. He moved first to Texas, then to the Florida panhandle where he set up a practice with two fellow Cleveland alums, Drs. Shawn and Sarah Leatherman ’03.
Smith then transferred from the Missouri to the Mississippi Army National Guard and was sent for more flight training in the Army Fixed Wing transition course, where he learning how to fly two types of aircraft, the C-12 and the C-23 “Sherpa.” He was eventually deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in 2008-09, but he didn’t leave chiropractic behind.
“During that time I had a chiropractic table shipped to me,” Smith said. “While there, the word got out that there was a chiropractor in the neighborhood and soldiers from other units would show up to seek care. I saw many people from all branches of the U.S. military as well as British and other coalition forces.”
Smith’s mission during OIF was to fly “high-priority cargo or people” to various locations throughout Iraq. Over time, he was able to make health and wellness a high priority as well by offering chiropractic care to those in need.
“Toward the mid- to late part of our deployment, I would take a portable adjusting table with me on the airplane and would adjust people at different bases while we were waiting on cargo or fuel,” Smith said. “It was great to take care of people in such a capacity. I learned that there are many chiropractors serving in the Army National Guard and other branches of the Guard and Reserve forces in non-healthcare rolls, taking their passion for chiropractic, and their caring for others, to war with them.”
While Smith was able to help others, he had to rely on his fellow chiropractors to maintain his own health. He was able to locate a fellow chiropractor to bring him relief, which allowed him to continue his service to his fellow troops. Although he was there to help the cause in Iraq, he also eased the suffering of his colleagues. As a fellow soldier, he knew from experience just how much his treatment meant to those in uniform.
“No one knows more than the soldier on the ground about the benefits of chiropractic care for quality of life and mission success,” Smith said.