U.S. Military Doctor Dies in Iraq in Non-Combat Incident: Many Pay Tribute

By: E&P Staff

For the past several months, E&P has highlighted coverage in local papers of the deaths of soldiers, who once lived nearby, in non-combat incidents in Iraq. These deaths — often causes by accidents, illness, or in a growing number of cases, suicide — rarely get any attention in the national press.

There has been epidemic of them in recent days: a 42-year-old suffered a heart attack, another soldier died in a rollover accident, another in an apparent suicide, one more from an illness, among others.

A highly unusual case was reported two days ago by the Plain Dealer in Cleveland: “A 2004 graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine died this week in Iraq. Dr. Roselle M. Hoffmaster, 32, a captain in the army, died Thursday of injuries suffered in a non-combat-related incident, according to a news release issued Saturday by the Department of Defense. It was unclear how she was hurt. The Defense Department released no other information, other than to say the case was under investigation.”

Who was she? Entries at legacy.com from those who knew her tell at least part of the story — and etch the tragedy more deeply. Here are some of them.
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–Roselle was a beautiful person. I never really had a chance to know her outside the hospital setting. She was an amazing physician who always did her best by the patients she cared for. Whenever she was on call, there was never a concern as she always knew what was happening. She will be truly missed as a friend, daughter, wife and physician. My condolences to the family and her close friends. We will always remember her.

–Roselle and I were childhood friends. Our families spent many New Years Eves together growing up. Although we had grown apart during our college years we still kept in touch periodically. Roselle was a remarkable person and would do anything for anyone. I know that she lived her dream by being a doctor.

–I was also in residency with Roselle at Brooke Army Medical Center. I was 2 yrs ahead of her in training, but always felt like she was smarter than me! Roselle was one of the most natural doctors I have ever seen… extremely intelligent, diligent, hard-working, caring and made it all look easy. I remember talking to Roselle as she was anticipating her move to Ft. Drum and her inevitable deployment. Having recently graduated from residency and spent a year in Iraq myself, we both thought that my experiences would be helpful for her. I told her that it would be a difficult year, but when she returned she would have a new perspective on life and be glad for the experience. I can’t tell you how much I wish those words were true. Roselle will forever be a reminder to me of the price of war. I am overcome w/ sadness. We will all miss her dearly.

–I first met Roselle when I was a fellow and she was an intern rotating in the CCU at Brooke Army Medical Center. She was a hard worker, a caring and professional physician, and a genuinely nice person. The Army Medical Corps has lost a great officer and doctor. My sincere condolences go out to Roselle’s family.

–As one of her colleagues in the emergency department, I frequently interacted with her. She was always so patient, kind, and willing to do what was in the best interest of her patients. That was her way, she often seemed to put the cares of others ahead of her own. Her untimely death is a tremendous loss to her patients, family, friends, co-workers, the Army, and our nation. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones.

–Roselle and I weren’t “hang out” kind of friends, but I dragged her out of sleep many nights in the last 2 years to see a patient in the ER, and we had a very collegial rapport. In the emergency department, your consultants can make you or break you, and I always knew that when Roselle was on call, that I could expect a friendly face and a very able and compassionate physician who would do the right thing by our patient. Her death hits us in the military medicine community very hard, and we grieve for her and her family. It was an honor to know her and to serve with her.

–Roselle was truly the most sincere and gentle soul who touched the lives of those who knew her. I had the pleasure of meeting her during her days at Smith College, and then later shared time with her during our medical school years at Case Western. Roselle will be deeply missed. I still remember her telling me of her meeting Gordon and I have alway admired the loving relationship that they shared. My thoughts and prayers are with her family, and the love of her life, Gordon.

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