When Cooper University Health Care’s thoracic surgeon Christopher Derivaux, MD, was commissioned as Lieutenant Colonel into the United States Army Reserves on April 14, 2023, it was a special moment. The first salutes he received were from his children: daughter, Lilly, an army reservist and ROTC member at Yale University; and his son, Christopher, a second-year cadet at the United States Military Academy West Point.
Dr. Derivaux’s story began several years ago after sitting down for lunch in Cooper’s cafeteria with Colonel Kirby Gross, an Army surgeon embedded at Cooper at part of the U.S. Army Military-Civilian Trauma Team Training (AMCT3) program. While the two chatted about Dr. Gross’ multiple deployments, one thing struck Dr. Derivaux – the crucial need for senior experienced surgeons in the U.S. Army.
A few months after that meeting, Dr. Derivaux’s son, Christopher, received his appointment to West Point. After Christopher completed his summer training, he was accepted into the Corps of Cadets. Sitting in the bleachers on the “Plain” at West Point that day watching the Acceptance Day parade, Dr. Derivaux was impressed by the dedication and commitment he could see in the eyes of all the young men and women in the Corps of Cadets.
It was just a few months later when his daughter Lilly informed Dr. Derivaux and his wife of her intention to apply for a Minuteman Scholarship and join the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps after being inspired by her brother and his friends.
At this point, Dr. Derivaux recalled his previous conversation with Col. Gross.
“I began to think that if something ever happened to one my kids, I would want them to get the best, highest-quality medical care possible,” Dr. Derivaux said. “I then realized that probably every parent of every kid in the military feels that way. Looking at the commitment to country that my kids were making, I had no excuse for not contributing my skill sets and 20+ years as a thoracic surgeon to the Army.”
On April 14, the family military story came full circle, when Cooper trauma surgeon John Chovanes, DO, FACS, who also serves as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves Medical Command and is the leader of Cooper’s Section of Military, Diplomatic, and Field Surgical Affairs, conducted the swearing-in ceremony for Dr. Derivaux in the Cooper Conference Center, surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues.
Congratulations, Lt. Col. Derivaux, and thank you for your service to Cooper and the United States.