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Local doctor retires from Army Reserves after more than 30 years in uniform

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As an Army Reserve career of more than 30 years for a Watertown doctor comes to a close, he plans to turn his focus to his medical work in the north country.

“There’s a lot of things that I have on my plate,” Maj. Gen. Robert J. Kasulke said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Gen. Kasulke has served as the commanding general of the Army Reserve Medical Command since October 2009, responsible for more than 10,000 soldiers and civilians nationwide and overseas.

A change of command will be held today at the command’s headquarters in Pinellas Park, Fla., where he will be succeeded by Maj. Gen. Bryan R. Kelly. Gen. Kasulke’s official retirement date is Oct. 1.

His civilian work locally includes the role of deputy medical examiner for Jefferson County and medical director of Hospice of Jefferson County.

Balancing his civilian commitments and his military responsibilities, which included about 150 to 160 days in uniform per year, required Gen. Kasulke to be adaptable.

“I can speak for everybody in the reserves ... you want to do the best you can in both worlds,” he said.

His military work required travel three to six times per month.

Some of the awards he has received while in uniform are the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation with one Oak Leaf Cluster. He also was named by the surgeon general as a distinguished member of the medical regiment.

Gen. Kasulke said the favorite part of his military career has been working with the people he’s met.

“It seems hard to separate from this magnificent group of healers,” he said. “They want to do the best work, and the best care, and it shows in their treatment.”

He said Reserve medical soldiers, who make up about 70 percent of the Army’s medical staff, have proven themselves over several deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq and have worked tirelessly to screen soldiers going to and from deployments.

He also said he was grateful the Army recognized he had leadership potential.

Gen. Kasulke joined the Reserve in 1980, as he was doing a vascular surgery fellowship at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He said he joined the Reserve because of a feeling he had that he owed service to the country, and as a way to thank the federal government for the scholarship money he received for college.

“If I didn’t get that scholarship money, I wouldn’t have been able to go,” he said.

He also credited his success to his family. He has been married to his wife, Catherine J. Kasulke, for 38 years. They have two children, Stephen, 29, and Kristen Hamp, 37.

Even as he separates from the military, Gen. Kasulke said, he hopes to continue helping soldiers and officers into the future.

He’ll also have to juggle some international responsibilities: In 2014 he will assume the international presidency of the Interallied Confederation of Medical Reserve Officers.

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