Dr. Withers entered the Navy Reserve during his first year of medical school at the University of Nebraska and drilled with the medical unit there. He took the opportunity to do active duty for training in the summers after his 1st and 2nd years at the Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Washington, and the Naval Medical Research Lab, New London, connecticut respectively. He was selected to participate in the Navy's Senior Medical Student program.
Following graduation, Dr. Withers traveled to the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virgina for his internship in internal medicine. Upon completing his internship he had a temporary assignment at Naval Air Station, Marietta, Georgia, before commencing the Navy's 6 month Flight Surgeon training program. He graduated 1st in his class and was one of 5 members of the class of 22 doctors who performed well enough in the flight training portion of the program to be allowed to solo the T-34B Mentor.
As a result of finishing 1st in his class, Dr. Withers was entitled to 1st choice of the available billets, and he chose the billet of Flight Surgeon for VP-17 in Hawaii. Tough duty, but someone had to do it. VP-17 flew the Lockheed P3, a 4 engine turboprop aircraft used for surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. During his 4 years in this assignment, Dr. Withers was twice the Pacific Fleet nominee for Flight Surgeon of the Year.
Dr. Withers then moved to a position as Aviation Medical Safety Officer for the Pacific fleet, which involved oversight of all the Pacific flight surgeons, and participation in or oversight of other flight surgeons for Aircraft accident investigations.
Following the Pacific tour, he entered into an Aerospace Medicine Residency, getting a Masters Degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins, followed by 2 years residency training at the Aerospace Medical Institute in Pensacola , Florida. Dr. Withers was one of 5 members of his class of over 200 to be selected for the Delta Omega, public health honorary society at Johns Hopkins.
His last tour in the Navy was as Senior Medical Officer for the nuclear powered aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower. Under his command, the Ike Medical Department won the "Blue M" as the best medical department in the Atlantic fleet. During this time he also received Board Certification by the American Board of Preventive Medicine in Aerospace Medicine.
Dr. Withers left active service in 1986, but participated in the Navy Reserve for another 12 years before retiring.