Jon Kerstetter has experienced many "crossings" in his life—from a civilian doctor to a medical officer in the Army National Guard, and then, after a career-ending stroke, from a medical provider to a recovering patient.
In this hour of Talk of Iowa, Jon Kerstetter talks with host Charity Nebbe about his life's transformations, detailed in his new book, Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier's Story.
"All of the things we think about being human—the goodness, the love. . . when you go to war, that's all taken apart," said Kerstetter. "And that's a difficult place to be for anybody. But when you're called to be a healer, it's especially difficult. You wrestle with that back and forth."
Kerstetter, who grew up in poverty on the Oneida Reservation in Wisconsin, graduated from medical school when he was 37 years old. Trained in emergency medicine, he enlisted as a medical officer with Iowa National Guard, traveling to Rwanda and later, served three tours in Iraq.
After injuring his shoulder badly in a fall, Kerstetter had a stroke in surgery, diminishing his ability to stand, read, and write. During his long recovery, Kerstetter enrolled in an MFA program at Ashland University in Ohio; Crossings is the result.
"As I began to put things down on paper, I would remember a little more. And I would work on it the next day, and I would remember a little more. Ultimately, over a seven year period, the book has over 350 revisions," said Kerstetter. "It's been a fantastic journey."