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St. Mary's Innovis' Dr. Smith heads to Iraq for three months

Dr. Stacey Smith gives his daughter, Olivia, 2, an American Flag balloon during a going-away open house at St. Mary's Innovis in Detroit Lakes Tuesday afternoon. Smith is a physician with the North Dakota Army National Guard and will be deployed to Iraq for a second tour on June 27. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

On June 27, Dr. Stacey Smith will report for duty, with deployment to Iraq.

Although he is a part of the North Dakota Army National Guard, as a physician, he is deployed as an individual, not with his company. Once in Iraq, Smith will get his orders, and will be attached to a group out of Cottage Grove this time around.

Smith was also deployed in the summer of 2006.

Another specialty for physicians in the Guard, Smith said they are only gone for 90-day in-country deployments.

"We're a different breed, if you will," he said Tuesday afternoon. As a physician with St. Mary's Innovis Health, the staff threw an indoor barbecue -- due to he weather -- for his going away party.

"I feel fortunate about that," Smith said of knowing he'll likely only be gone about 90 days.

His time as a family practitioner at St. Mary's won't change much once he's in Iraq.

"It's really not that much different than here," he said of the medicine he'll be practicing.

He said he'll work at a Troop Medical Clinic and see patients with sprained ankles, fevers, and other ailments similar to what he would in Detroit Lakes. He said he didn't see much major trauma last time he was in Iraq.

Being attached to a larger company this time, he might be located at a larger clinic, but he said he won't know for sure until he's in Kuwait.

Having already being through a similar deployment a few years ago, he knows what to expect and it's not as stressful this time around.

As for his family back home, he said it likely won't be as stressful for them either.

In 2006, his wife, Jennifer, was pregnant and caring for three young girls.

"This will definitely be easier on my wife, not as much stress," he said.

Smith, who has been with the Guard for 13 years and St. Mary's for eight years, said he plans to come back to St. Mary's when his tour is over -- a position that will be waiting for him.

Chief Medical Officer Abigail Ring said the clinic has enough physicians to cover Smith's patients while he is gone.

"He is a great doctor. He has lots of dedication with his years of service through the National Guard," she said. "We're proud of him and hope for the best."