MINT HILL, NC – On Monday, June 13, Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center gave a “Hero’s Welcome” to Dr. Charles Munyon, who recently returned from a four-month deployment to the Army Role 3 Medical Center in the Baghdad Diplomatic Security Compound, where he served as part of Task Force Med 16 in support of Operation: Inherent Resolve.
Munyon commissioned with the Army Reserve Medical Corps as a Captain in April of 2007. “I was initially attached to the Army Personnel Management Command,” he explains, “then to the 1487th Head and Neck Augmentation Team. I was promoted to Major in 2014 and Lieutenant Colonel in August of 2021.”
Stateside, Munyon performs incisionless brain surgery at Novant Mint Hill Medical Center. “Incisionless brain surgery” may sound like something straight out of Star Trek, but in reality, it involves using high-intensity sound waves to make small lesions in the brain that can be used to interrupt pathologic circuits. Currently, the technique is approved by the FDA to treat essential tremor and Parkinson’s Disease, but it is being studied for the treatment of chronic pain, epilepsy, and even psychiatric disorders. “Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center is currently the only active focused ultrasound treatment site in North or South Carolina, and even extending as far south as Georgia,” says Munyon.
Whether he’s serving his country in Baghdad or performing state-of-the art surgery at Novant’s focused ultrasound treatment site, Munyon’s motivations are the same: making a difference. “I went into medicine because I couldn’t imagine any better way to make a difference in people’s lives while still getting to explore my passion for science, and particularly neuroscience,” he says. “I joined the Army because there was a significant need for neurosurgical expertise, and because I was inspired by the example of one of my mentors from medical school, Major John Pryor, MD.”
“Major Pryor was a trauma surgeon and critical care specialist, as well as an exceptional teacher,” continues Munyon. “He played a significant role both in my decision to go into surgery (albeit neurosurgery rather than trauma surgery) and to join the Army. Unfortunately, Major Pryor was killed during his third deployment by a rocket attack on his installation near the Iraqi city of Mosul. I think of him often.”
Munyon was surprised and thrilled to receive such a warm welcome back to Novant. “I was caught absolutely flat-footed!” he laughs. “I had no idea whatsoever that there was going to be anything made of my return, let alone the kind of welcome that I received. Novant has been extraordinarily supportive of the programs that I have been building here in Charlotte,” he continues, “including the laser ablation and deep brain stimulation programs at Presbyterian Hospital and the focused ultrasound program here at Mint Hill Medical Center, but I was absolutely floored by this gesture. It’s one of the many things that makes me love working here.”