Monroe surgeon heads to Afghanistan for seventh deployment

By Chris Hendrickson

The best heroes are the ones who don’t actually realize that they’re heroes. And according to those that know him, there is no better way to describe Evergreen Health Monroe physician Dr. James Swenson.

An orthopedic surgeon in Monroe since 1998, Swenson specializes in sports medicine, elective surgeries like hip and knee replacements, trauma injuries and arthritis. He is also a colonel in the United States Army Reserves, and will be leaving this month to serve out a four-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. Throughout his military career, Swenson has served in Bosnia, Haiti and Afghanistan, and been deployed to Iraq on three separate occasions.

This will be Swenson’s seventh deployment and his second time serving in Afghanistan.

Originally from the Kent area, Swenson became interested in orthopedics while still in high school. After earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington, he made the decision to pursue medicine in earnest. He applied to several different medical schools, eventually settling on the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington D.C., for which he sought a military scholarship to offset the high cost of tuition.

“Once you got accepted into medical school you could apply for a scholarship and they would pay for your schooling,” Swenson said. “Then once you’re done with your schooling, then you work as a doctor for them for so many years.”

He and his wife Elizabeth moved to Washington D.C. together, later returning to Washington so that Swenson could complete his residency at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis. The two settled in Monroe in 1998 and have remained there ever since. They are extremely proud of their son, a Monroe High School graduate, who has also decided to pursue a career in orthopedic medicine.


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