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Retired Canadian Armed Forces surgeon Vivian McAlister, a London doctor who served in Afghanistan, shows off a First World War flag flown by the No. 10 Canadian Stationary Hospital, a medical unit comprised of Western University medical faculty. In the fall of 1919, Western’s medical community gathered to celebrate the unit’s return to London. Western medical faculty members celebrated the 100th anniversary of the commemoration with a dinner earlier this week. (Jennifer Bieman/The London Free Press)
Responding to the need for medical personnel in the military, McAlister enlisted when he was 52 years old and served six tours of duty in Afghanistan, the longest war in Canadian history.
As a trauma surgeon, McAlister worked to save the lives of catastrophically injured soldiers in the war zone. He worked in tents at military base hospitals with his medical team and would sometimes set up operating rooms inside abandoned homes in the field.
McAlister spent about a decade going back and forth to missions abroad. His longest overseas posting was four months. He balanced his military missions with his teaching post Schulich and his general and transplant surgery position at LHSC.
McAlister travelled to Iraq with his military team and, when a major earthquake killed more than 100,000 in Haiti in January 2010, he was among the Canadian medical personnel that went to help.
He received the Canadian Medical Association’s John McCrae Memorial Award in 2019 and has helped establish the Office of Military Academic Medicine at Schulich, which supports Canadian Armed Forces trainees at the medical school.
The Order of Canada, created in 1967, recognizes outstanding achievement and dedication to community service. More than 7,000 people have been named to the Order of Canada.
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