Arash Momeni, MD
Air Force 1999-2014
My military story began in 1999 when I was active duty during med school. In 2003 I moved to California where I completed an internship at David Grant Medical Center. When I moved to Tacoma, Washington, I did two years of flight medicine, which is like family practice for pilots. So you take care of the pilots, you take care of their families, and you deploy with them (Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq). From 2006-2010 I went back to California for my radiology residency at David Grant Medical Center. After that I was stationed at the Air Force academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 2014, I discharged from the Air Force, went into private practice for two years, and then came here to the UVA Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging.
Eventful is how I would sum up my military experience. You do a lot in the military that you just don’t do in normal life. I deployed to the Middle East, sat in on classified meetings and missions to Iraq—all kinds of crazy stuff that as a traditional physician you would likely never be exposed to.
In many ways, I would say that being in the Air Force made me a better Neuroradiologist. It taught me to be more disciplined, autonomous, and confident. I practiced medicine on my own whereas most residents and fellows haven’t yet had that opportunity. I think I relate to patients who are veterans in ways that other people cannot. Within the military, comradery is strong. It’s a huge fraternity, and you form a special bond with others who have served.
One memory that particularly stands out is this one time we were flying a cargo mission into Baghdad. My job was to look out the window and make sure we weren’t getting shot at. I was looking out the window and then I was seeing rocket launchers being fired at us. So I was like, “We’re being shot at!” The pilots told me, “Go to the back, sit down, and sit on your Kevlar vest so you don’t get shot in the butt!”
This article is part of the Department of Radiology’s Veteran’s Day series “A Tribute to Our Veterans”, honoring the men and women in our department who have served. To see the entire series, please click here.