|By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, September 14, 2001 - 1:01 pm: Edit Post|
Varied career leads man to Peace Corps
Sep 8, 2001 - Fort Worth Star-Telegram Author(s): Chris Neely
COLLEYVILLE - Some presidential appointees see their governmental stint as a springboard to bigger things. Dr. Steve Weinberg is just looking for a graceful way to wrap things up.
"I am a Texan going to Washington who is coming back," said the Colleyville lawyer and former surgeon. "This is the last job I'm going to take. I have no plans for a career in Washington."
On Tuesday, Weinberg, 58, will travel to Washington, D.C., to become associate director for volunteer support for the Peace Corps. He will be responsible for the welfare of 7,300 Peace Corps volunteers in 73 countries. His job will be to make sure they receive required inoculations, to track health threats they might encounter and to supervise their overseas medical care.
"My job will be to keep them safe and, should any problems arise, to do what's necessary to extract them or take care of them wherever they are," he said.
Weinberg, a former member of the State Republican Executive Committee, said he wanted to end his career with public service, but he was not sure how.
Literally and figuratively, his resume is all over the map, he said.
He spent 19 years as a general surgeon and, in the mid-1980s, did three tours of medical missionary work in Honduras, Haiti and Zaire.
"Anything and everything that came out of the bush that needed surgery, I would do, all emergency situations," he said. "I remember one young boy, about 12 years old, who came in with appendicitis. He'd been sick for three days. I asked him through a translator why it took so long for him to get there, and the translator said because his brother carried him on his back and it took three days to get through the jungle.
"I felt guilty having even asked. Yeah, that's an emergency situation," he said.
The day after Weinberg returned from his final mission in 1986, he began law school. For the past 12 years, he has practiced health care law.
The irony of combining two professions not known for their fondness for each other is not lost on Weinberg.
"Doctors don't like lawyers, so I don't like myself," he deadpanned.
When George W. Bush was elected president, Weinberg sent his resume to Washington to see whether there was a position where he could use his medical, missionary or legal experience. After a few months, the Peace Corps offered him a job that required all three. He serves at the will of the president.
"Finally - whether you call my resume unique or crazy - somebody said it fit," he said. "And it was a perfect fit."
A large part of Weinberg's job will be visiting volunteer camps, said Ellen Field, press director for the Peace Corps.
"This job of supporting our volunteers overseas is a daunting one," she said. "He needs to know exactly how all of this works, and one can't get a feel for that without visiting some of those places."
Until then, Weinberg said he and his wife, Vicki, are caught in a whirlwind of packing and trying to find a place to live. Rent in Washington, D.C., is not cheap, and his annual salary of $133,000 will be a significant step down, he said.
None of which matters to him, he said.
"This is purely public service for me," he said. "My father-in- law used to say, 'You always ought to leave the woodpile higher than you found it,' and I really believe it. That's what this is about for me."
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