A man who puts his money where his mouth is

Jeff McInturff is a 39-year-old emergency room doctor who twice put his life on hold for stints in the war in Iraq. Moved to re-enlist in the army after the horror of Sept. 11, McInturff first served with the Army Reserve in Kuwait in 2004, troubled only by the notion that he felt underutilized working at a combat support hospital. A year later, he was in southern Iraq for an additional four months, tending to sick and injured detainees at a prison camp. McInturff did all that as a statement about his commitment to his country and to the cause. While he has remained steadfast in his support for the war, the country has changed around him.

A recent visit to McInturff's four-bedroom home in a Granite Bay gated community found a doctor more determined than ever to support the war and more frustrated at American impatience with the military campaign.

On the heels of an election that swept the Democrats into power in the Congress and suggested the nation had moved toward the political center, McInturff's views seem practically missing in action in the media in recent weeks. He doesn't support a military withdrawal. He doesn't want to hear talk of a timetable. "Patience is a big issue," he said, seated with his back to a living room window that looks out to a wooded meadow where wild turkeys and peacocks roam. "Fortitude and patience are what win wars. I don't know if it's a consequence of our current lifestyle in which everything is fast -- made-to-use, ready-to-eat. We live in a very fast society. It's good for our lifestyle, but it makes us ill-prepared for the long haul."...

At one point in his first four-month assignment, McInturff succumbed to feelings that he wanted to quit, to go back to his hospital job in Roseville and say farewell to the military. It was at Thanksgiving two years ago that he was jolted out of that mood. "I was sitting at a table with an enlisted soldier from Kentucky. He was telling me about his life -- he ran a pet store and he just bought a house. I was feeling down because I felt like medically I was being underutilized. I didn't feel like I was accomplishing much. "As I was talking to him I realized here this kid was the embodiment of the American dream, starting without much, he had built up his life and was serving his country. During that dinner I realized I can't walk away. It sounds silly, but I felt like I couldn't leave this guy's health care to someone else. That's when I stifled that desire to get out."

McInturff has never wavered in his belief that the United States must be in it for the long haul, that victory must be the only answer. Asked what argument he would make to the many who have changed their minds about Iraq, McInturff thought for a moment and said, "What I would ask those individuals to do is try to set aside our whole purpose for going to war and ask yourself today, 'Do I want to win this war? If you don't want to win this war then you have to ask yourself why and what are the consequences if we choose to walk away. I think the clear consequences are more Iraqi deaths. You're going to see increasing influence over Iraq by neighboring countries like Iran and Syria, which I think we can all agree isn't beneficial."

When it is mentioned that many Americans no longer see victory as a possibility, McInturff replied, "Realistically, we have to have a long-term vision. I mean, our own democracy took a long time to find itself. One hundred years after we had a supposedly great start, we fell apart into a civil war. We had a great functioning democracy, and yet we started killing each other in untold numbers. While democracy is clearly the best alternative I've seen, it's not without its flaws and foibles. "We've really only given these people three years to establish one. There's no adding water and, bingo, instant democracy."

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