US Army

Welcome back to Malik Thompson, who returned to his civilian job as a pharmacy technician at Princeton Medical Center (PMC) in October after serving in the U.S. Army for the past year — including 11 months in Afghanistan.

Thompson, a corporal in the Army Reserves, was activated in 2019 and deployed as an Army medic in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the U.S. military’s official name for the ongoing mission in Afghanistan.

Before leaving home for Afghanistan in 2019, Thompson didn’t know exactly what to expect.

After arriving, he soon realized that Afghanistan was more scenic than he envisioned. Another pleasant surprise was that he found many of the Afghan residents he encountered were welcoming to American soldiers.

Now that he is back home, Thompson is thinking of the U.S. military members who are still stationed abroad, and he hopes others will do the same.

“Make sure you keep every soldier in your hearts and your prayers,” he said.

Thompson returned to work at PMC in October — coincidentally, during both Penn Medicine Experience (PMX) Week and National Pharmacy Week.

He came bearing a gift: A keepsake featuring a flag and a warm message to the Pharmacy Department signed by his commanding officer framed under glass. The item was handmade by a crafter in a bazaar near where Thompson was stationed. The flag used in the keepsake was one that Thompson carried while he was in Afghanistan that was also flown on a Blackhawk helicopter during a combat mission.

Whitney Hung, PharmD, BCPS, director of Pharmacy, said the gift was a wonderful surprise to help celebrate Pharmacy Week. She said the framed keepsake will hang on a wall beside the department’s conference room.

“Thanks (to) Malik for his courage and his commitment to our great nation,” she said in an email to the pharmacy staff. “We are grateful to have him rejoin our team.”

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