Wilmington doctor deploying to Eastern Europe to treat servicemembers, refugees

A doctor in Wilmington is deploying overseas to help treat service members and refugees involved in the conflict in Ukraine.
Hess To Europe
Wilmington Health doctor sent off by Honor Guard before deploying to Europe (Photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A doctor in Wilmington is deploying overseas to help treat service members and refugees involved in the conflict in Ukraine.

Dr. Christopher Hess helps people every day as an Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Physician at Wilmington Health. Now, he’s heading overseas to help service members and refugees in Eastern Europe.

“It’s a very special thing that I’m allowed to do that I previously could not when I was in Iraq and was enlisted, so it was a much different role than going now,” Hess said. “Now, I have the ability to maybe help some refugees that are in a terrible place right now in Ukraine. I feel more than honored to be there.”

The American Honor Guard of North Carolina came to Wilmington Health on Monday as Hess finished his final shift before heading overseas.

“A lot of times, military personnel don’t get the proper recognition when they’re leaving or coming home,” Honor Guard of North Carolina President Chip Jones said. “It’s important to me and my group that we show that we’re in full support of the job they have to do.”

Hess enlisted in the Army 21 years ago, now he serves in the Army National Guard. When he received his orders to go to Europe, he felt a mix of emotions.

“There’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of what-ifs, there’s a lot of worrying about my practice, my patients, my family, my kids, but also a little bit of excitement knowing I’m getting to go over there and help people,” Hess said.

A husband and father of two, Hess says leaving his family is going to be really hard.

“It’s four months. Some people have year deployments, two-year deployments, so I get I’m on the smaller end but as a personal thing, leaving your kids and family for four months is really hard,” Hess said. “Plus, the patients and not being there for them. The patients that I’m taking care of here.”

Hess’ wife Deborah is also a Wilmington Health doctor and a Major in the Army National Guard. She says as a mother and wife she is feeling the anxiety, but ultimately they prioritize service to country and is proud to see him serve.

“We’re apprehensive, we’re nervous, but most of all we are proud,” Dr. Deborah Hess said.

While being separated will be difficult, the two say they are grateful for the support at home.

“It’s amazing to have the support of Wilmington Health, the community, and my family to go and help out people that may be in more need than we have here currently.” Dr. Christopher Hess said.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, New Hanover, Top Stories