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Combating Combat Injuries

A University of Missouri surgeon and former Air Force physician has traveled to Germany to once again care for soldiers wounded in battle. The environment was familiar to Stephen Barnes, MD, chief of the Division of Acute Surgery at the MU School of Medicine.


In January, Barnes traveled to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC), the largest American hospital outside the United States. LRMC is the evacuation and treatment center for all injured U.S. service members and contractors serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Barnes knows the combat trauma environment well. He spent years teaching lifesaving skills to flight surgeon teams before they deployed into battle.

“I know what it takes to move a combat casualty from the front lines back to the safety of the United States, which at the present time, necessitates a stop at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center,” Barnes said. “The staged combat casualty care that takes place globally is an impressive feat that I am honored to have been asked to be a part of once again.”

From 2004 to 2008, Barnes served as a major in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps, where he directed the Critical Air Transport Advanced Training Program at the U.S. Air Force Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills at the University Hospital in Cincinnati. In 2006, he served in Iraq as chief of critical care and medical director of the intensive care unit at the 332nd Air Force Theater Hospital at Balad Air Base.

Barnes was selected to travel to LRMC as part of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) /American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) Senior Visiting Surgeon Combat Casualty Program. The program began in July 2006 as a way to allow senior civilian trauma surgeons to share expertise with their military surgical colleagues, and in turn, have the opportunity to learn from exposure to combat casualties. Surgeons are selected for two- to four-week tours. Since 2006, there have been 42 distinguished visiting surgeons selected for the program.

Barnes received his medical degree from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 1997 and attained board certification from the American Board of Surgery for general surgery in 2003 and critical care in 2004. He completed a residency at the University of Kentucky and fellowships in both trauma surgery and critical care at the University of Kentucky and in advanced laparoscopic and gastrointestinal surgery at the University of Cincinnati. He joined the faculty in MU’s Hugh E. Stephenson Jr. Department of Surgery in 2008.