HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa. – As the son of two immigrant parents, Dr. Oz’s story is that of the American dream. In his latest op-ed in The Washington Examiner, Dr. Oz lays out his family’s immigrant story and deep love for America, spurring his run as a Republican candidate for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania.
Washington Examiner Op-Ed: My family\’s immigrant story, and why I decided to run
Read Dr. Oz’s Full Op-Ed Below or Click Here:
In the 1950s, the United States was concerned about a shortage of doctors, so it recruited top medical graduates from all over the world. One of them was my father.
He and my mother came to America from Turkey. I was born here in 1960, raised as a proud American who quickly adopted the customs of my friends and community, including a passion for football, which I played in high school and college. My family’s guiding game plan was hard work, which matched the nation’s passion for success.
Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Turkey was a strong U.S. and NATO ally and a key country in the West’s fight against communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. My father became an American citizen, and I was born an American citizen, but we also kept our Turkish citizenship, too. Under Turkish law, all males living in Turkey are required to serve in the military. That law was modified for people like me — descendants of Turkish parents who lived abroad. The Turkish government had a special 60-day program to permit those like me to continue our education or jobs while still fulfilling its requirements. So in 1983, at the height of the Cold War, I spent two months of my summer vacation from medical school serving in an infirmary helping doctors on a Turkish base within easy striking distance of Soviet missiles.
After my 60 days were up, I returned to my University of Pennsylvania medical school classes with a heightened awareness of the critical role the U.S. played in supporting democracies around the world against the scourge of communism. As strong supporters of President Ronald Reagan, my family and I appreciated his hard-line approach that culminated in the collapse of the Soviet Union and freedom for the captive nations of Eastern Europe without firing a shot.
After I finished school at Penn, my medical career took off. I performed thousands of heart surgeries and invented medical devices that have saved many lives. Later, while I continued my medical practice and do so to this day, I was blessed to have success in television. I won nine Emmy Awards hosting The Dr. Oz Show and brought commonsense health advice to millions of people. This life path could only happen in our great country. America is the freest and fairest nation in the world. It’s not even close.
But the wisest move of my life was not in medicine or television. It was in 1985 when I married Lisa in the same Pennsylvania house we live in today.
In many ways, our marriage and family are a testament to America’s great tradition of religious liberty. I was raised as a secular Muslim. Lisa is a Christian who attended seminary and whose mother is an ordained minister. We raised our four children as Christians and beamed with joy watching them and our four grandchildren become baptized.
Things have since changed in the land of my parents’ birth. The Turkish government of today is very different from what it was in the 1980s. I have deep concerns about many of its authoritarian domestic policies and harmful foreign policies. I have never been involved in Turkish politics, but I have proudly helped Turkish humanitarian efforts, such as caring for refugees from the war in Syria, and I have helped the Turkish Chamber of Commerce with promoting travel and tourism in the country.
In retirement, my parents spent more time in their homeland. I maintained my Turkish citizenship in order to visit them more easily. This became more critical after my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis soon after my father’s death. As anyone who has a loved one with Alzheimer’s knows, changing surroundings is harmful to the patient’s treatment and care. My mother now has continuous nursing care in her home in Istanbul, and I help direct it from here. Despite my mother’s failing memory, and similar to most immigrants to our shores, she adores America and appreciates the wonderful life our people gave her here.
My family and I can never fully repay the debt we owe to this country. Even so, I feel obligated to do all I can for my fellow citizens. Through medicine, education, and philanthropy, I have tried to help others achieve their own American dream. Serving in public office is another way to give back.
I believe America has taken some bad turns that I can help rectify. I am more confident than ever about America’s future, so long as we make the right choices. And that’s why I’m running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania as a conservative Republican.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is a candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.