The rural town of Bow, N.H., is a long way from the sands of Somalia or the jungles of Haiti, but for Dr. Francis “F.J.” Milligan (’85) and his wife, Germaine (Durocher ’88), it is a welcome home. Until 1996, F.J. had been serving as a medical doctor in the U.S. Army, where he achieved high distinction serving in global hot spots around the world.
He was assigned to Somalia during the famine crisis in 1993, where he saw the ravages of political war. Staying behind in upstate New York were his family, which then included four small children. Shortly after he arrived back home, he was summoned to Haiti, where he was assigned to be the personal physician of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide for the next two-and-half months during that separate crisis. The assignment was an honor Dr. Milligan could not refuse, having earned it for his “outstanding motivation, skills and attitude,” according to his commanding officers, who had praised him for his ability to teach, raise morale, and improve the quality of patient care in the clinics at which he was assigned.
And yet in spite of these difficult assignments, Dr. Milligan managed to devote his free time to setting up health clinics for the poor and teaching Natural Family Planning. He saw this as a God-given opportunity to put his faith into practice in these remote and troubled regions.
So outstanding was his tour of duty as a medical officer, that Dr. Milligan was nominated for two prestigious medical awards: The General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award, which is presented annually to six individuals from all services and branches of the military, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award, which is awarded annually only to one individual each year. Dr. Milligan considers it an honor to even be nominated for these awards since no Medical Corps Officer had ever won them before.
In nominating him for one of the awards, Dr. Milligan’s commanding officer said: “Major Milligan is an extremely insightful, thoughtful, and articulate individual. He has a unique ability to penetrate the smog and grasp the core of an issue. He then applies superb analytical and problem-solving skills to develop a solution. In summary, Major Milligan is the finest Medical Corps officer I have known in my thirteen years of service. He combines all the highest qualities of a physician, leader and educator.”
Since moving to New Hampshire in 1996, the Milligans have had an impact in their new community. Dr. Milligan is gaining a reputation as a family practitioner who follows Catholic teaching. Catholic families are seeking him out, as are others who need his expertise. In 2011, the Diocese of Manchester presented Dr. Milligan with the St. Martin de Porres Award for Outstanding Medical Treatment. Dr. Milligan was also named as a Senior Fellow at the Concord Hospital for his ongoing contributions to the medical community.
He writes, “At Thomas Aquinas College I developed an understanding of man by first examining human nature. This was prior to any detailed study of the human body that I acquired in medical school. The growth of my knowledge from that which is philosophical first allowed an ordered growth in the particular knowledge, the knowledge of parts of the body. As an added benefit, this knowledge of human nature has been a beacon guiding me through the many ethical pitfalls arising from the medical field. The study of the art of medicine without an understanding of human nature is much like building a house without blueprints.”
Dr. and Mrs. Milligan live in the Granite State with their 12 children.
“In our classroom discussions, we are responsible for our own education. We have to get our hands dirty, to figure out the material, to let it become part of us and make us better people. That is real learning.”
– Isabella Hsu (’18)
Redondo Beach, California
“I thank you so much for what you are doing at Thomas Aquinas College. I hope there will always be a Thomas Aquinas College. Your contributions to the Church and the world are marvelous to behold.”
– John Cardinal O’Connor (†)
Archbishop of New York