In Service To Others


“I like helping people who just had the worst day of their life. I think trauma can be the greatest gift in your life. It’s an opportunity to reset life. Something traumatic happens and everything that’s not important goes away. You realize what matters. The unimportant, frivolous aspects of life get thrown out the window.”

As a Special Forces medic, Karl Holt ’19 (M.D.) was not surprised to be deployed to Afghanistan post-9/11; that’s why he joined the military in the first place.

What Holt didn’t expect was to have his helicopter shot down by the Taliban one night in October 2009. His team fell 800 feet, crashing into a village below. He broke his back. His left leg was “pretty much destroyed.” Since Holt was the only medic there, he tried to keep the others alive, crawling from one patient to the next to stop hemorrhages, apply tourniquets, splint fractures and try to keep everyone conscious.

Now a medical student at UNC, Holt plans to become a surgeon to continue helping others.

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Holt is a Tillman Scholar, a program designed to help veterans’ transition from soldier to civilian-student easier.