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Heroes of Military Medicine Honored for Providing Exceptional Care

Image of Heroes of Military Medicine Honored for Providing Exceptional. Pioneers in military health were honored during the annual Henry Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine Heroes of Military Medicine awards ceremony, held on May 9, 2024, at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. From top left: U.S. Navy Cmdr. Timothy Donahue; U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Carrie L. Lucas; U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Darcie Greuel; U.S. Air Force Col. (Dr.) Valerie Sams; Kathy Williams. (Robert Hammer, MHS Communications)

Military medicine champions and experts were honored during the annual Henry Jackson Foundation’s Heroes of Military Medicine awards ceremony held on May 9, 2024, at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

The annual Heroes of Military Medicine awards recognize outstanding contributions by senior leaders, medical professionals, and civilians who distinguished themselves through excellence and dedication to advancing military medicine and enhancing the lives and health of our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members, veterans, their families, and civilians, according to the foundation.

“The people we're honoring tonight have dedicated their careers to teaching and to sharing, and helping those around them learn how to care for the men and women in uniform who support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” said Dr. Paul Friedrichs, deputy assistant to the president and inaugural director of the White House Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy, who served as the keynote speaker. Friedrichs is also a former Pentagon joint staff surgeon and retired Air Force major general.

“Wherever service members go to serve this great nation, behind them are these men and women in and out of uniform who will care for them and provide them the support that they need,” he added.

Three of the awards were presented to military medical professionals from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force. In addition, one Hero of Military Medicine Ambassador Award and one Hero of Military Medicine Civilian Provider Award were also presented.

“The Military Health System is in the midst of a major change in global restructuring of an organization that maximizes readiness,” said Dr. Lester Martínez-López, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. “After hearing the stories of these honorees, I am convinced that we are in good hands.”

The honorees represented excellence in military medicine across the MHS.

U.S. Navy Honoree: U.S. Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Timothy J. Donahue

Donahue was commissioned as an ensign in the US Navy Reserve in 2003 and attended Nova Southeastern University where he graduated as a doctor of osteopathic medicine in 2007. He was then commissioned as an active duty Lieutenant in 2007.

“I joined the military because I love our country and our freedom,” said Donahue. “I became a trauma surgeon because I wanted to care for injured warfighters, and I've been honored to do that both at home and abroad.”

Donahue is the trauma medical director at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia. He has helped to lead efforts to create the U.S. Navy’s first-ever level 2 trauma center. He is board-certified in surgery and surgical critical care and is an assistant professor of surgery for the Uniformed Services University.

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Darin K. Via, surgeon general of the U.S. Navy, said, “I am honored to recognize an individual whose dedication, skill, and unwavering commitment has not only saved lives, but has elevated the standard of care for our nation's service members and their families … his journey began with a deep-seeded desire to heal—driven by an unwavering empathy and the pursuit of knowledge.”

U.S. Air Force Honoree: U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Carrie L. Lucas

Lucas is chief of the behavioral health branch, Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. She leads mental health operations, advising the Air Mobility Command commander, Air Mobility Command surgeon general, and 18th Air Force Commander. She provides guidance and support for family advocacy, mental health, substance use, and operational support team programs.

“As a behavioral scientist, a clinician, and a social worker—to be recognized on this stage is phenomenal,” said Lucas. “Medicine has shaped me and allowed me to be present in a way I never thought possible.”

Lucas entered the U.S. Air Force in 2009 with experience working with adolescents and adults in substance use and mental health treatment. Since joining the U.S. Air Force, she has provided clinical and administrative oversight of mental health programs, provided treatment for active duty members, dependents, and retirees, ensured compliance with the personnel reliability program.

“Her tireless dedication and leadership made significant impact on the mental health and well-being of our airmen,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannine Ryder, commander of the Air Force Medical Agency and chief of the Air Force Nurse Corps. “For the past 13 years, she has provided clinical expertise and leadership for critical programs ensuring the highest standards of care for the entire military community, including active duty family members and retirees.

Lucas said, “I just want to say that in these environments, when you come together, and you get after it—that’s when the change can really occur. I'm just really honored to be recognized tonight and I'm just actually grateful for military medicine for allowing me to be in this space.”

U.S. Army Honoree: U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Darcie D. Greuel

Currently serving as executive officer of the 330th Medical Brigade in Fort Sheridan, Illinois, Greuel joined the U.S. Army Reserve as an enlisted soldier in May 1984. She completed basic training at Fort Jackson and graduated from Fort Sam Houston’s advanced individual training as a combat medic. After 20 years of enlisted service, she commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve in 2004.

In December 2022, Greuel achieved her life-long dream of attaining her master’s degree in nursing with an emphasis in veteran and military health care.

“Thinking about this award has been causing me to reminisce about all my 40-years of service to the U.S. military. That is a long time,” said Greuel. “I’ve been thinking about how my service has affected me. The wonderful things that I have done and the wonderful people I have met. It brings a lot of emotion and cherished memories.”

In her civilian life, she is the program manager for the Post 9/11 Military to Veterans Administration Case Management program at the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans' Administration Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The program ensures that all post-9/11 veterans and service members are provided a seamless transition into Department of Veterans Affairs health care and benefits programs when returning from deployments or transitioning out of the military.

“She has dedicated herself to our community, our nation and our veterans,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Thad Collard, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Command. “She is truly the epitome of a citizen soldier…she's a proven leader, a mentor, a teacher, and a contributor to the advancement of military operational medicine.

Greuel said, “The Army is actually where I fell in love with the medical field, and I found my two biggest passions in my life: nursing and serving America's heroes, their families and their loved ones.”

Civilian Provider Honoree: Kathy M. Williams

Williams is an adult health clinical nurse specialist/master clinician assigned to the 96th Inpatient Operations Squadron, 96th Medical Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. She has held this position since April 2015. As a medical-surgical expert on the multi-service inpatient flight she oversees the nurse residency program.

“I'm so honored and humbled to be here today and be selected for this prestigious award,” said Williams. “I wouldn't be here without some other people helping me out. I would like to say thank you to the 96th medical group leadership, my supervisor, and my peers for helping me get here.”

“I truly have enjoyed my 38 years of being in the Department of Defense.”

Williams initially entered the U.S. Air Force as an active duty information manager in 1986. She retired from active duty in 2014 with 28 years of active honorable service.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland, director of the Defense Health Agency said, “Kathy Williams is a great example of the type of public servant we find in this unique health system of ours. She embodies what it means to be a doer, a teacher, and a role model … everyone here knows there are many ways to serve your country. She has chosen them all. She sets a very high standard for what it means to serve your country, your fellow citizens and your community in every possible way.”

Ambassador Honoree - C-STARS Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati Medical Center Cincinnati Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills, otherwise known as C-STARS, is a joint program between the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and the U.S. Air Force, offering training for military medical personnel in the areas of trauma and critical care.

U.S. Air Force Col. (Dr.) Valerie Sams, who accepted the award on the team’s behalf, serves as the Critical Care Air Transport Team Training cadre and director of C-STARS.

“I’m very proud of the team and thrilled to accept on behalf,” said Sams. “They are the best of the best in training folks to do the hardest mission and they always have to be clinically sound.”

The third program of its kind in the nation, C-STARS was created to enable Air Force health care providers to sustain their skills by being fully integrated with their civilian colleagues treating trauma and critical care patients.

“Here your medical professionals engage in hands on training, working side-by-side with civilian trauma providers on complex cases in a high-volume setting,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannine Ryder is the Commander, Air Force Medical Agency and Chief, Air Force Nurse Corps. “The program emphasizes critical care and simulation training, ensuring readiness for full spectrum operations.”

Sams ended her speech by saying, “Whatever the world brings us, we want to be ready to bring the best care we can to the nation's warriors. And that's our promise to you.”

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