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Dr. David Estroff is the first pediatrician at USAG Grafenwöhr in some two years.

Dr. David Estroff is the first pediatrician at USAG Grafenwöhr in some two years. (U.S. Army photo)

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The growing U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwöhr has one new face that parents might or might not be happy to see, depending on the circumstances.

The garrison, which is seeing an influx of troops as part of the service’s transformation in Europe, has gotten its first pediatrician in about two years. Dr. David Estroff is one of only 20 Army pediatricians in Europe, Europe Regional Medical Command officials said.

"The pediatrician adds another layer of expertise that we have," said Lt. Col. Kendra Whyatt, the garrison clinic commander.

Although Estroff is new to the civilian side of Army medicine, he is no stranger to the service. Estroff is a retired colonel who served for 10 years in the active-duty Army and 10 years in the Army Reserve. He worked mostly in Washington state but also did some brief stints in South Korea and Mannheim, Germany.

"I know the people (in Army medicine) and I know the system. It gives me a big advantage," Estroff said.

Estroff said he hopes to be able to see patients soon, but in the meantime, he is familiarizing himself with the medical services available to children in the area since he is a general practice pediatrician and might have to refer patients to specialists.

He plans to visit a children’s hospital in nearby Weiden and other local medical centers, he said.

Without a base pediatrician, families have had to take their kids to family doctors at the clinic. In some cases they have had to see a local German doctor, said Jennifer Walsh, a Bavarian Medical Department Activity spokeswoman.

"I think it will add some convenience and reduce the number of subspecialty referrals to local (pediatricians)," Estroff said about his services. "I am looking forward to working with local pediatricians."

Army medical officials said Grafenwöhr’s growth and changing role fueled the need for a pediatrician.

"Grafenwöhr was a place where soldiers would go on rotations for training and now that they have moved a unit there since the USAREUR transformation (started), the population and demographics have changed," said Phil Tegtmeier, a Europe Regional Medical Command spokesman.

As of February this year, nearly 11,000 troops, civilians and family members were stationed at Grafenwöhr, according to U.S. military figures.

The Army announced in May that the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment; 9th Engineer Battalion; 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment; and 172nd Forward Support Battalion are all moving from Schweinfurt to Grafenwöhr. The moves are expected to boost the base’s population by more than 1,100 soldiers and 1,701 dependents, and have left its leaders scrambling to find housing for them. Half of the incoming dependents are going to be spouses, but the new troops will be younger soldiers with young children, Estroff said.

"It’s not like they weren’t seeing kids before I got here. With the increased number of kids, adding to the capabilities (at the clinic) is something I am happy to do," Estroff said.

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