Colonel John Balser, SP, PA-C, MPAS, joined the Army in the 1980’s and attended Basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. After graduating from 91B Combat Medic training, he went on to train as a Hospital Corpsman 91C. After several assignments, including serving as a combat medic with the 172nd Infantry Brigade in Alaska, COL Balser was selected to attend the Army Physician Assistant Program, Fort Sam Houston, TX. Upon completion of Phase 1 and the Warrant Officer Candidate Course he was promoted to Warrant Officer 1. In March 1990 he graduated Phase 2 and served as a PA in Germany including a deployment with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. While serving at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2, the Army transitioned PA warrant officers to commissioned officers and he was promoted to lieutenant on February 4, 1992. In 1996, he was selected for Orthopedic Surgery specialty training at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX.
As a PA, he has worked in a variety of assignments to include: Staff PA, Resident Trainer, Mississippi National Guard; Deputy Division Surgeon, 3rd Infantry Division; Career Manager/Assignments Officer, Human Resources Command; Staff Officer, Forces Command Surgeon’s Office; Staff Officer, Medical Command; Commander, 240th Forward Surgical Team; PA Consultant/ Deputy Branch Chief; Deputy Director Health Services Directorate, Office of The Surgeon General; Specialist Corps Branch Chief, Human Resources Command; Deputy Commander for Operations, Craig Joint Theater Hospital, Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan; Command Surgeon, Army Reserve; and recently Specialist Corps Chief.
He was the first PA to command a Forward Surgical Team and deployed this team to Afghanistan. He also was the first to take the oath of acceptance as the PA Consultant in a combat zone. He recently became the first PA to be selected as Corps Chief and is currently serving as the 19th Army Medical Specialist Corps Chief.
COL Balser holds a Bachelor of Science Degree, a Masters of Clinical Sciences and a Masters of Strategic Studies. He is a graduate of the Army PA Program and Command, General Staff College, and the Army War College.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal [2 Oak Leaf Cluster(OLC)], the Meritorious Service Medal (9 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (4 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (3 OLC), National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award, Superior Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, the Order of Military Medical Merit, and the Surgeon General’s “9A” Proficiency designator.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by LTC Amelia Duran-Stanton, MAJ Patrick Walsh, and COL John Balser and was submitted to the Society in September 2017. Photographs are courtesy of COL Balser.
Disclaimer: The authors’ views do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.