JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – LACKLAND, Texas –
When it comes to aviation medicine, Col. Paul A. Young, command surgeon, 25th Air Force, is one of the best, which is why he was selected by the Society of United States Air Force Flight Surgeons as the recipient of this year’s George E. Schafer Award.
The award recognizes the outstanding, career-long contributions of Air Force flight surgeons to the health, welfare, safety and mission effectiveness of aircrews as well as to the vitality of the specialty of aerospace medicine, according to the Society’s website.
“It is a great honor to receive this award. This was something that in the past I wished I could have achieved,” he said. "It is a pinnacle of Aviation Medicine recognition."
Young said the award reflects not on individual achievements, but on all contributions over a lifetime.
“It is almost, to me, like the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the Air Force,” he said. "This was decades of work and continuous contributions to the essential aspects of aviation and aerospace occupational medicine.”
Young, a 1983 Reserve Officer Training Corps graduate of North Carolina State University, was the first minority ROTC detachment commander at the university. He received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1987 and has been actively engaged in aviation medicine since 1990.
“I have a complete interest in aviation medicine,” Young said. “Nothing is off-limits when it comes to learning, understanding, observing, acting or conducting aviation, occupational, and preventive medicine. It is a passion.”
Young also graduated from the Air War College in 2013 and routinely assists as an adjunct presenter for medical elective seminars there.
At 25th Air Force, Young is responsible for the medical support of almost 30,000 personnel serving in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance worldwide. He works with Airmen on behavior, appropriate risk management, proactive lifestyle choices and changes, and making the proper choices so they are able to perform their duties, he said.
Young’s focus is on all aircrew Airmen, and their support teams, not just the pilots.
“It is not just about flying and aviation medicine anymore,” Young said. “I have to be a clinician, flier, consultant, mentor, and specialist in every field. It is about the cyber operation tele-warrior component, too. We deal with everything that has to do with flying and operational medicine for mission support.
“This job is important to what 25th Air Force does and, in a broader context, to national security,” said Young, who also works with multiple military branches, agencies and components of the Department of Defense.
In addition, he is a Diplomat of the American Board of Preventive Medicine, with specialization in Aerospace and Occupational Medicine, a Fellow for the Aerospace Medical Association and a senior member and Board Officer of several medical international counsels, to include the NATO Research and Technological Organization.