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Identical twins offer combat dentistry

‘I did not think I would be doing triage’

IMAGE: Drs. Aleksandr & Dmitry Baron
Band of brothers: Capt. Aleksandr Baron and Capt. Dmitry Baron, twin brothers and Army dentists, enjoy a brief encounter at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu May 6. The men are both augmenting 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at two different bases in southern Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Maksim Shchekoturov

Babil Province, Iraq—Identical twins and military dental officers Dr. Aleksandr Baron and Dr. Dmitry Baron discuss combat dentistry in terms of stress and triage.

“People are appreciative of us,” Dmitry said. “We’re like combat stress (counselors). We’re leaders. It’s a pretty big balance.”

Aleksandr has served as a triage doctor, making priority of care decisions based on the severity of combat wounds. “I never thought I would do something like that. I thought, if you send me to a deployed environment, I’ll take care of soldiers, I’ll comfort them, listen to them, care for their teeth, but I did not think I would be doing triage.”

IMAGE: Drs. Aleksandr & Dmitry Baron
In service: Twin brothers and Army dentists, Capt. Aleksandr Baron and Capt. Dmitry Baron, look over a patient at the dental clinic on Contingency Operating Site Kalsu May 6.
They provide what is called “expeditionary care,” responding to emergencies, filling cavities, even performing cleanings to ensure that soldiers remain healthy and mission ready in a combat theater, said the Army public affairs officer who offered an account of these “Army dentists’ paths to southern Iraq.”

That they are in Iraq together, both assigned to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment albeit at different bases, is “mere coincidence,” said Maj. Jason Billington. Aleksandr volunteered from their Fort Stewart, Ga., home base and deployed to Contingency Operating Site Kalsu with the Regimental Support Squadron in October 2010. Dmitry, who volunteered later without knowing his assignment, joined the regiment’s 3rd Squadron at Contingency Operating Site Echo in April 2011.

IMAGE: Drs. Aleksandr & Dmitry Baron
Shared commitment: Twin brothers and Army dentists, Capt. Aleksandr Baron and Capt. Dmitry Baron, stand together outside of the dental clinic at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu May 6.
Their story of U.S. military service begins when their parents, Vitaly and Emma Baron of Aberdeen, N.J., moved from Russia to America. The boys were six years old. “He just wanted a better life for his children,” Aleksandr said of his father’s moving them from what is now the Ukraine to Brooklyn, N.Y. Assimilation came with difficulties of street and language for boys together in a strange new world.

Dmitry: “We did everything together. We got in trouble together. We’d be in a corner together. With a twin, that can be a lot of fun.”

Aleksandr: “Being in a country that is as far as the United States is from Russia, to have him next to me was the best thing God could give me. He was a best friend. Trying to get cultured to America is hard. With him by my side, we were partners all the way.”

Both attended Rutgers University for undergraduate degrees and received dental degrees from New York University College of Dentistry in 2009. They serve in the military as a requirement of health professions scholarships offered by the Department of Defense to medical and dental students.

Dr. Aleksandr Baron and Dr. Dmitry Baron are members of the American Dental Association.