Dustin Golding and his Kennewick family lived a hardscrabble life. Golding's construction-worker father would suture his own job-site wounds with a household needle and thread.
Mindful of such rudimentary medicine and lacking money for college, Golding joined the Army and became a medic.
In eight years of service, he was deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq, increasingly in a lead position.
As a medical platoon sergeant, Golding commanded more than 20 medics and multiple aid stations. His final mission also enabled him to interact closely with civilians at a free clinic set up by the post, an experience he relished.
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He left the military with medical skills and a desire, after three deployments, to be on a relatively shorter timeline to a civilian career and family life. So he pursued physician-assistant training in the University of Washington's MEDEX Northwest two-year program, from which he graduates Aug. 29 in Seattle.
The program trains healthcare providers who will practice primary care in medically underserved and rural areas of the UW School of Medicine's service region.
Golding, 29, has resettled in Kennewick with his wife Teona and two young sons, Carter, 3, and Lincoln, 3 weeks.
"Commitment to service -- to the nation, to the community -- has continued to build for me," he said. "I like my community and I want to see its healthcare improve. I help at a free clinic here, Grace Clinic, where there's a need for providers. I'm young and learning and growing, and I'd like to develop my skills and leadership to become an advocate for people and providers here."
Golding told the Herald recently that he has "not committed to a job yet but have had multiple offers here in the Tri-Cities and surrounding areas."