Local doctor comes homeBy Trisha Maldonado
After spending three months in Southwest Asia, Copper Queen Medical Center’s Dr. Panayiotis A. Ellinas returned home on Sept. 20.
Ellinas, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves Medical Corps., has served as Command Surgeon of and Expeditionary Command Units and was responsible for the health of thousands of soldiers in the 20 countries of CENTCOM AOR (Central Command Area of Responsibility).
“CENRCOM is twenty countries you never want to visit as a tourist.” Lt. Col. Ellinas said.
Ellinas has also served as expert medical consultant to both general staff and the 325th and 349th Combat Support Hospitals during his last deployment.
“In 2004 I was in Iraq in the green zone,” Ellinas added. “When all the bad things happen we are the first to respond.”
He became a doctor in 1991 and joined the army in 2004.
“I had my midlife crises but instead of buying a Ducati, I joined the Army,” he said.
He worked with Doctors Without Borders before joining the army. Doctors Without Borders is an international medical humanitarian organization.
They provide independent, impartial assistance in more than 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict.
“For many years before I did this I was out there not in uniform as a humanitarian doctor. In very bad places Cambodian Civil War, Kosovo, The Balkans and Albania those places, it added up. I thought what am I doing out here I survived so many times who is going to protect me,” Ellinas said. “Then I realized especially in the Balkans those guys in the Blackhawks that carry us around in uniforms those guys are protecting us. There is so much you can do when you’re in uniform and be protected.”
When asked how his family feels about the dangers he puts himself in, he said, “my family is crushed when I leave but they understand my duties.”
“In my many years I have learned to never say never and never judge anyone,” he added. “Know your priorities God, country and family, always make sure you know your priories sometimes they change. For me they are changing.”
He also serves as the U.S. Army Surgeon General Subject Matter Expert in Preventive Medicine and 807th MDSC and Second Medical Brigade Bioterrorism and CBRNE Expert.
“Life is good, when you're...alive,” Ellinas said. “Set your expectations at the right level and you will always smile too, like me.”