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Home : News : News
NEWS | Sept. 30, 2021

Alamo Wing flight surgeon receives prestigious fellowship

By Senior Airman Brittany Wich 433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A 433rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight surgeon at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland recently received the prestigious honor of qualifying for a Royal Society of Arts fellowship in August.

Lt. Col. Ivan Edwards, who is also a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, and a first-generation Uganda-born American citizen, was anonymously nominated to apply to the RSA.

“The panel said they look at how many years of experience a candidate has in terms of helping other people,” Edwards said. “They base it on that and also the potential for them to be someone who is going to influence social progress in other people’s lives.”

According to the RSA website, the organization is an inclusive community committed to finding ways of thinking, acting and delivering change through providing platforms and opportunities for shared ideas and pioneering research. 

As an RSA fellow, Edwards will be able to connect with others to discuss ideas, receive funding and implement plans.

Edwards said he has been a physician and member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve for more than 17 years with a focus on helping people get better, despite their condition or illness.

“When I was a kid I used to try and fix little animals,” Edwards said. “When there was a frog that was hurt, I would try to splint the leg.”

According to Edwards, the desire to help disadvantaged people led him to immigrate to the United States to pursue his dream of becoming a medical doctor.

“In Uganda, during the wars, I saw untold suffering,” Edwards said. “It impacted me and my family. When I came to the United States and became an American, I put that chapter behind me, and I was proud to become a member of the best Air Force the world has ever seen.”

Edwards joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 2004 as a flight surgeon, while he finished his medical degree. Once he obtained that degree, he joined his first unit, the 934th Airlift Wing at Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minnesota. After two years, in 2010, he transitioned to the 433rd Airlift Wing.

He said the Air Force brought him mentorships that encouraged him to be a better person. According to Edwards, he considered the late Maj. Gen. Homer Lewis, former Air Force Reserve Command commander, and retired Col. William Bailey, former squadron commander in the 433rd Medical Group, as mentors throughout his career.

“General Lewis said, ‘Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks to do more for yourself, better yourself and enrich others,’” Edwards said. “So that’s what I’m doing. I am trying to do the best I can to enrich other people because somebody did it for me.”

One of Edwards’ initiatives was to supply oxygen concentrators to the people of Uganda in response to COVID-19, which helped highlight the relationship between health, economics and the education of marginalized people, according to Edwards. 

COVID-19 prevention education is important in certain parts of Uganda because the majority of people live in close proximity to one another due to economic enterprise and the oxygen concentrators were an important contribution, he said.

Edwards was featured in the June 2021 issue of Top Doctor Magazine for his holistic approach to medicine, was involved in Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease initiatives and delivered a lecture on Parkinson’s disease in a webinar.  

Edwards said he is also involved in humanitarian and community activism work, in addition to his medical and military career. He was a special keynote speaker at the Uganda Diaspora Gala 2017, worked as a physician for the San Antonio Fire Department and received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal award.    

“I found my passion and I can tie it in with my quest to improve humanity, to make things right, to make things worthwhile for somebody, regardless of who they are,” he said.