Colonel Mary Virginia Krueger, DO ’95, MPH, MMAS | Digest Magazine
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Colonel Mary Virginia Krueger, DO ’95, MPH, MMAS

August 28, 2017

Assistant Deputy Health Affairs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Army Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia

[as told to Jennifer Schaffer Leone]

Col. Mary Virginia Krueger“Upon graduation from college, I had an acceptance letter to Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in hand, but no money to pay for school. Although no one in my family had served in the military since the Civil War, the U.S. Army offered a pathway to my dream, so I took the chance. I was commissioned for what I presumed would be a four-year scholarship repayment; but 22 years later I am privileged to enjoy a military medical career that has encompassed direct patient care, Command, resident training and senior health advisement. I have served as an osteopathic physician on four continents—in times of peace and times of peril, in tents, in tanks and in helicopters. I advise senior military leaders on health policy and legislation, some addressing breastfeeding and maternity leave, thus supporting female Soldiers in their ability to balance motherhood and service. The Army has taught me about servant leadership, about what it means to provide the best medicine in the world in the most austere conditions. The Army ignited in me a passion for global health engagement; among my deployments, I have been on humanitarian assistance missions, working side by side with local providers in Africa and in Afghanistan, teaching primary care, obstetric and pediatric skills. The Army compensates me at the same rate as my male colleagues, while many of my female peers in the private sector make 74 cents on the dollar. I have been promoted, and I have advanced to a senior rank. But these achievements come at a price. I have had to manage an intense work/life balance—for the Army will demand all, and take even more if you allow. I’ve come to comprehend that work/life ‘balance’ is really more about tradeoffs. It is about prioritizing competing interests, realizing that at times, someone else can sit in a meeting or see a patient in a clinic, but they can’t be at my son’s graduation or at my friend’s wedding. Those are obligations only I can fulfill. Some days the Army wins; other days, my family wins. Knowing which days are which is where the success lies.”