During the second quarter of Thursday’s Temple football game against Navy, Dr. J. Milo Sewards stepped onto the field not in response to an injury, but as an honoree.
The attention of the stadium shifted from a dancing Hooter the Owl to a smiling Sewards and his wife Kristen and daughters Payton and Dylan. As he held a Temple football high in the air, applause erupted from students, fans and athletes.
Sewards is the team orthopedic physician for the university’s department of intercollegiate athletics and treats the men’s basketball and football teams. His recognition at Thursday’s game, however, was in honor of his three-year service with the United States Navy and his upcoming second deployment.
“I am beyond grateful for what Temple and the football team has done for me,” Sewards said. “But I am also conflicted. There are so many others who deserve this recognition as well.”
Sewards enlisted in the Navy to fulfill his three-year active-duty commitment as part of the Health Professions Scholarship Program through the Navy, a scholarship which allows those who plan to be physicians, dentists, optometrists or clinical psychologists to receive tuition assistance. He enlisted after completing his orthopedic residency at Temple University Hospital.
In 2005, he was sent to Naval Hospital Beaufort and Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, where he worked as a physician. Two years later, he was deployed for seven months to Djibouti in Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, an effort to combat global radical extremism. In Djibouti, he helped build schools, homes and hospitals.
“We were a tightly knit community, and it was great to get to know young soldiers who were ready to go to war,” said Sewards, who lives in Dresher, Pennsylvania. “It takes a certain type of person to stand up like that, and it’s rewarding to be able to assist them.”
Sewards said it is just as rewarding to help young athletes at Temple.
As a team orthopedic physician, Sewards’ role is to diagnose and evaluate athletic injuries and determine whether it is safe for a student-athlete to return to the field or the court. He has provided rehabilitation and surgical advice and has also communicated with parents of injured athletes to determine the best course of action.
This will be his 10th season with the men’s football and basketball teams.
“I really love what I do,” Sewards said. “It’s different from what I did with the Navy, but being able to keep someone healthy is all I want to do.”
Although Sewards is a fan of Temple basketball and football, he doesn’t act like one during games. He is focused on the sidelines, where he observes athletes, mostly those who were recently injured, and advises the medical staff.
“He’s pretty connected with our athletes and coaches,” said Al Bellamy, the director of athletic training for football. “His care and concern is witnessed by all with his availability, honesty and advice.”
Bellamy added that Sewards is an asset to the medical staff for the football team and that his expertise and experience will be missed in his absence.
Although the date and location of Sewards’ second deployment could not be shared due to Navy confidentiality standards, Sewards will report to duty with the Navy in the near future.
“I’m happy to serve this country,” Sewards said. “And I hope to continue to help those who are injured for as long as I can.”