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East Brunswick native assists fellow military personnel

A military man with ties to central New Jersey is fulfilling his dreams with both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC).
Joseph G. Kotora, a native of East Brunswick, was promoted to the rank of commander this month. He had previously been promoted to ensign in July 2002, lieutenant in May 2006 and lieutenant commander in 2011, all for the Navy.
During college, the now-37-year-old was interested in medicine, but was aware of the low probability of acceptance.
“I initially sought a commission in the USMC, but accepted the commission to the Navy when I was accepted to medical school. I have been blessed to fulfill both dreams by serving the men and women of the USMC as a physician. I joined the military because I take great pride in my nation, and find satisfaction in serving as a naval officer,” he said.
Joining the Navy officially on July 2, 2002, Kotora graduated from Officer Indoctrination School in Newport, Rhode Island, as the company commander of November Company, Class 03040, in July 2003. He then graduated Fleet Marine Force Service Officer School in July 2007 on board Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
He attended medical school at the University of Medicine and Dentistry-School of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2006. He completed his internship in 2007 and his emergency medicine residency at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in 2012. He was named the honor graduate for both programs.
Kotora then completed his Fellowship in EMS and Disaster Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and earned a Masters in Public Health through Rutgers University in 2014.
Amidst his education, Kotora was deployed overseas.
“I deployed as the battalion surgeon, 1st Battalion/8th Marines to Ramadi, Iraq, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2007 to April 2008. In 2015, I had the honor of deploying as the assistant officer-in-charge for the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response in Africa, and served in Senegal, Ghana, Spain, Italy and Greece.  In addition, I conducted humanitarian and partnership missions in the Dominican Republic (2014) and Vietnam (2017),” he said.
Currently, Kotora serves as the interim specialty leader in Pre-hospital and Disaster Medicine for the Navy. In addition, he is the EMS medical director and Operational Force medical liaison officer for Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune.
“I chose this specialty because of its intimacy with military operations. Operational emergency physicians are experts in combat and austere medicine, while maintaining expertise in civilian emergency medicine. Emergency medicine literally grew out of necessity in the military during the Napoleonic wars. It is closely intertwined with military ground, air and sea-based operations, and offered me the chance to practice medicine in a true military environment,” he said.
Kotora is currently stationed onboard Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. His multiple roles include coordinating care for injured or ill service members; briefing Battalion, Regimental and Division commanders on medical issues pertaining to Marines and sailors whom are ill or injured; providing medical oversight to EMS units stationed onboard Camp Lejeune; serving as the primary liaison between EMS and the medical center; assisting the Trauma medical director in designing and operating the Navy’s first verified Trauma Center at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune; and serving as the subject matter expert to the Trauma Operations Committee with regards to trauma resuscitation.
“I have loved every day in the Navy. The most rewarding has been the chance to provide care to the men and women who protect this great nation … [and] the chance to work alongside, train and learn from Navy corpsman, nurses and physicians,” he said.
Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.
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