'Courageous Dads' Articles

Frontline Physician

Doctor is man of faith and science

James Gregory Jolissaint, M.D., is a doctor and a soldier who thinks the military is a great place to practice the healing arts and defend freedom. A family medicine physician who served 32 years in the U.S. Army, he retired with the rank of Colonel in the Medical Corps. He currently serves as the Medical Director and Chief of the Clinical Operations Office for the Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) Program.

Frontline Physician

Col. James Gregory Jolissaint, M.D. (second from right), is shown with other soldiers and his wife, Deborah.

After graduating from Louisiana State University Medical School in 1986, he completed a Family Practice Internship and Residency at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, Georgia. In 1998 he earned a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), National Defense University (NDU) at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.

His military career included deployments during Operation Desert Storm, the conflict in Kosovo, and a two-year stint in South Korea, where he served as the Command Surgeon for the U.S. Forces Korea, the United Nations Command, and the Eighth U.S. Army. 

He is married for 25 years to Deborah, who serves as R.N. Case Manager for Army Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Jolissaints live in Woodstock, Maryland, and have five grown children. He is a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

Fathers for Good corresponded with Dr. Jolissaint about serving family and country.

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Dr. Jolissaint celebrates at home with his wife, Deborah, and three of their five children.

Fathers for Good: What has been your greatest satisfaction as a family man?

Dr. Jolissaint: My greatest satisfaction as a husband and a father is having a loving, blended family that enjoys spending time together, that enjoys spending vacations together, and that enjoys being open and honest with each other. We all look forward to the next opportunity to be together, even when we are together!

FFG: How has military service affected your family life?

Dr. Jolissaint: Being a career Army officer meant moving every two or three years – and there were even three one-year moves that occurred during my final 15 years on active duty. Although these moves were always associated with upward mobility leadership assignments for me, they also meant packing up household goods, transforming new houses into “homes,” establishing new relationships, attending new schools, finding new jobs (volunteer or paid), and in one case, a two-year geographical separation while I commanded in Korea – clearly the most difficult time that our family faced during my career.

Our family was blessed to have a wife and mother willing to be a stay-at-home mom during our children’s formative years – and I was blessed to have jobs that allowed me to spend time with my family for key life events. But it was a strong relationship with God that allowed me, my wife, and our children to not only tolerate being an Army family, but also to grow as individuals and as a family.

FFG: Talk about the honor of serving your country in a very “frontline” way. Where did you get the courage?

Dr. Jolissaint: I enjoyed being a soldier because I enjoyed being a part of a team that was committed to serving a greater cause. I truly believed that I was a part of an organization whose job was to provide and protect the freedoms and rights that we, as Americans, all enjoy.

Courage was never an issue with me – I never even thought about being courageous or brave. Everything I did in uniform was done because it was my “duty” to perform those tasks, whether in the United States or while deployed. The main challenges I faced while deployed or overseas was dealing with loneliness, and dealing with the emptiness associated with being separated from my family. But my relationship with God allowed me to fill that loneliness with service to others, and my sense of duty allowed me to know that other Americans were enjoying their freedoms because soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines were willing to make a sacrifice of service for them. And God has continued to bless me after retiring from the Army because he has allowed me, in my current job, to continue serving America’s sons and daughters who serve in uniform!

FFG: What has the Knights of Columbus meant for you as a military man and a family man?

Dr. Jolissaint: The Knights of Columbus has provided me an organized venue for serving my parish priest, for serving my fellow parishioners, and for fellowshipping with other like-minded men. In Korea, where 90% of our service members are unaccompanied, the K of C provided me an opportunity to help establish South Korea’s first K of C Military Council – and provide committed Catholic men the opportunity to serve others instead of indulging temporal desires.

And through involvement with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, I have the opportunity to mentor, train, and fellowship with young Catholic men and women who represent the future leadership of our military. And through it all, my family has grown to appreciate a life of service, and in most cases, that sense of service is now being replicated in our children.

Editor’s Note: There are many ways to be a “Courageous Dad.” Be sure to see the movie “Courageous” which tells the story of four fathers and their struggles to become the men God created them to be.