Community colleges provide diverse educational needs

Lt. Col. (ret) Robert Kruger, MD, is shown in this photo. (Photo submitted)

Lt. Col. (ret) Robert Kruger, MD, is one of only three geriatric internal medicine physicians with the U. S. Air Force.

He began his education at Fulton-Montgomery Community College and says going to community college for him was the best way to start his academic career.

Kruger graduated from FM in 1972 with a degree in math-science and completed his bachelor’s degree at SUNY Plattsburgh. He joined the U.S. Air Force and served as a medical laboratory technician and laboratory officer.

But after 12 years on active duty, he started medical school at the University of Vermont, College of Medicine. “You’re never too old to go back to school and change your life,” he said.

He completed internal medicine residency at Keesler Air Force Base Medical Center and geriatric medicine fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center. He was assigned to Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio to serve as geriatric internal medicine subspecialist, taking care of America’s military heroes with dementia and other diseases of aging.

Kruger deployed with U.S. military forces twice, to Bahrain and again during Operation Enduring Freedom within days after the Sept. 11 attack on America.

He retired from active duty in 2003, but returned to Wilford Hall soon after in federal civil service, where he continues in practice. He is a clinical associate professor of medicine and teaches geriatric medicine to resident physicians and USUHS medical students.

“Community colleges serve a large variety of students with diverse educational needs. Young persons finishing high school can attend college full time and acquire a lifetime professional skill in just a couple of years.

“Others can return back to college to work on their degree at their own pace, after being in another profession or away from school for any time. You are never too old to start learning again and community college fulfills that opportunity.”

It’s well known that the United States is battling an opioid epidemic. In 2015, 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdose and 2 million suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers.

“Physicians have been tasked with limiting prescriptions for opioids in treating non-cancer pain or to use non-opioid methods to manage pain,” said Kruger.

Kruger is a medical acupuncture physician and uses acupuncture to relieve pain and symptoms in wounded warriors, military retirees, and their families. He uses acupuncture to treat musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, traumatic brain injury, and other disorders. He also teaches “Battlefield Acupuncture” to military and VA providers as a safe and effective means to relieve pain, in support of the military’s effort to deal with the opioid crisis in America.

“I was overjoyed to learn about the new chemical abuse counseling A.A.S. at FM,” said Kruger. “This will also help students work toward completing course work to become a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor. This is a cutting edge response by FM which will place students in the forefront of our battle against the opioid crisis.”

Kruger says he will always treasure his educational experience at FM as one of the most valuable learning opportunities of his life.

“It’s at FM where I learned to think and grow, and to foster a lifetime love of learning. I will be forever grateful,” he said.

Kruger lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife, Pam. They have one daughter who is also a San Antonio physician. Kruger can be contacted at rkruger123@yahoo.com.

Amy Radik is the coordinator of PR and marketing at FM.