On Oct. 24, John Beshai, M.D., raised his right hand and was sworn in as a member of the United States Air Force Reserve. It was an emotional moment for Dr. Beshai, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus. “It’s very hard to put how I felt into words,” he tells us. “It’s something I wanted to do for a very long time.” In fact, he traces that desire all the way back to 1969 — the year his parents arrived in the United States from Egypt. They came, like so many immigrants before and after, with a dream of their own: a better life for their Coptic Christian family. “They were young, they didn’t have jobs, they struggled to make it,” says Dr. Beshai, who was just 3 months old at the time. “They lived the American dream of pursuing success through hard work.”
The Beshais passed that dream on to their son, who decided at 15 to become a cardiologist after watching his father battle heart disease and have triple bypass surgery. “I met his surgeons, and those guys were heroes to me,” says Dr. Beshai. “I wanted to be able to do what they did and be able to take care of my dad.” That desire never wavered, and he became a cardiologist, working in Chicago and Atlanta before joining Mayo Clinic in 2013.
But as he completed his education and began his career, he found himself drawn to another group of heroes as well: the men and women of the military. “I’ve always had a profound respect for military service,” says Dr. Beshai. That respect grew over the years and “solidified in college during Desert Storm,” as he watched the war unfold on TV. As his career advanced, Dr. Beshai “became more appreciative and thankful for the opportunities I had that this country has given me,” he told the publication Inside 944th Fighter Wing. He also became more aware “that those opportunities and freedoms came with a very heavy price.”
A few years ago, Dr. Beshai began looking for a way to help pay that price, and narrowed in on service in the Air Force Reserve. He shared his interest with Curtiss Cook, M.D., an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic and commander of the 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Luke Air Force Base. Dr. Cook put Dr. Beshai in touch with a recruiter, and in October, the man who “wells up at the sound of the Star Spangled Banner” pledged “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
He’s not the first Mayo staff member to make that promise. Mayo Clinic has a rich history of military service, dating back to the very beginning of the organization. “The Mayos were a military family, and Mayo has policies in place to support staff in the military,” says Dr. Beshai. He says the organization has been “very supportive” of his service, which will begin when he reports for training in January.
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