CHAPEL HILL – During multiple deployments as a U.S. Army Special Forces medical sergeant, David Costa said he provided care for civilian children with cuts and bruises, worked to stop bleeding from gunshot wounds and prepared patients for transport.

“I’ve pretty much seen the country from one dust pile to the next,” Costa said of Afghanistan. He said he was been deployed eight times to the country or Iraq, and would “easily” do it again. He said he found the work rewarding.

He’s now a master sergeant at the Tactical Human Operations Rehabilitation and Reconditioning Program at Fort Bragg.

To build on the training of Special Forces medical sergeants like Costa, the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the state’s largest insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, announced a plan to create a two-year master’s degree program. The program would prepare veteran medical sergeants to be physician assistants.