“I always wanted to be a scientist,” he said. “Somehow, early in my life, it crystallized into becoming a doctor and since that time, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
Dr. Gilliland was born in Mesa, Ariz. He was one of nine children. Growing up, he spent his summers changing tires for his father who owned a chain of tire stores.
Dr. Gilliland and his family moved to Anniston in July from Mesa, where he had practiced medicine for 10 years and had his own practice since 2009.
His wife, Amelia, wanted to move to the South to be near her home state of Georgia.
They met in Augusta, Ga., 13 years ago while Dr Gilliland was completing his internship at Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon.
“She was a Georgia Peach, had recently finished her master’s degree and was starting her doctorate program at the University of Georgia,” said Dr. Gilliland.
Shortly after they met, Dr. Gilliland transferred to Fort Bragg where he served as a flight surgeon for the Army Special Operations Command.
Later, while serving as battalion surgeon for the 7th Special Forces Group, he proposed to Amelia during a trip together in Key West, Fla., on Sept. 10, 2001 — the night before the terrorism attack on America.
They had planned to marry a year later, but the groom-to-be was immediately called back to duty and informed that he would be deployed to Afghanistan. In response to the news of his going to war, they opted to get married two weeks later.
Their wedding in Fayetteville, N.C., made headlines across the country. Their story was told on national television and newspapers. Witnesses at their wedding were a reporter and a photographer from the Associated Press, who did their wedding photographs free.
Amelia is a professor of education and teaches online for Colorado Technical University. They have six children, two boys and four girls, ages 4 to 22.
Dr. Gilliland earned his undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and his medical degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. He also has a master’s in public health through the Medical College of Wisconsin. A military scholarship helped him pay for his medical degree.
Dr. Gilliland was brought to Piedmont by Regional Medical Center and in August opened his practice, Piedmont Family Medical Center, a collaboration between Regional Health Management Corp., and the Piedmont Healthcare Authority.
“We’ve received a very warm response from the community,” he said. “The businesses, residents and patients have been extremely kind and generous to us. We’ve been welcomed like family. We already know that Piedmont is a giving town because we’ve had people bring us produce and plants, which we appreciate very much.”
The Gillilands live near Golden Springs and attend Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Their children attend Sacred Heart Catholic School.
The doctor enjoys playing guitar and was, in fact, in a rock and roll band when he was younger. He likes to water ski, snow ski, fish, and spend time with his wife and children.
He’s planning on being in Piedmont for a long time, so he bought a motorcycle to make his daily commute.
“I consider being in Piedmont the culmination of my life and training,” he said. “I want to give back to this community. It’s made us feel very welcome and very much at home.”
Contact Margaret at firstname.lastname@example.org.