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NEWS | Oct. 16, 2023

2023 Heroes of Military Medicine San Antonio Awards honors local Department of Defense public-private partnerships in San Antonio

By Burrell Parmer Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio

To bring the story of Military City USA’s unique military and civilian medical research and clinical care collaborations to national and global attention, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc., hosted its 2023 Heroes of Military Medicine San Antonio Awards Program at The Red Berry Estate.

The event, in its second year, provided an opportunity to celebrate the Department of Defense public-private partnerships within the city by recognizing five honorees and their selfless dedication to serving the nation’s wounded, ill, and injured military service members.

Those honored included U.S. Navy Lt. Rachel Robeck of Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio; U.S. Army Col. Michael Wirt, former deputy and acting commanding officer of Brooke Army Medical Center; U.S. Air Force Capt. Sarah Juhasz of the 959th Inpatient Operations Squadron at BAMC; Dr. Thomas Mayes; and the Fisher House Foundation.

“Following the great success of last year’s event, we couldn’t be happier to return to Military City USA to again honor those who have made significant contributions to the field of military medicine,” said HJF President and CEO retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Caravalho, a former BAMC commanding general. “It’s especially gratifying for the HJF, as we also celebrate the 40 years since President Reagan signed the bill authorizing our establishment.”

Introducing Robeck was NAMRU San Antonio Commanding Officer Capt. Jennifer Buechel.

“Lt. Robeck is as an outstanding Naval officer and physician assistant who distinguishes herself through excellence and dedication to advancing military medicine and enhancing the lives and health of our nation’s warfighters from bench science to clinical practice,” Buechel said. “She is leading from the front to find ways to decrease morbidity and mortality from the hospital to the battlefield and is advancing the next generation of wartime emergency medicine providers.”

Robeck was nominated for the award in 2023 by former NAMRU San Antonio Commanding Officer Capt. Gerald DeLong and current executive officer Capt. Ewell Hollis.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to be among the list of recipients,” Robeck said. “I’ve loved reading the biographies of the other recipients and seeing their extensive accomplishments in their fields.”

Robeck is greatly appreciative of HJF for taking the time and effort to recognize the contributions of military healthcare providers.

“As active duty service members, we are used to reflecting on our careers in small chunks – proficiency reports to proficiency reports or evaluations to evaluations,” Robeck said. “This award is unique in that it looks at the service member’s contributions over the course of a varied career. HJF cares about the impact of the healthcare worker on their patients and on the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines they serve.”

Towards the conclusion of the program, attendees heard from the 2023 Hero of Military Medicine Tribute Speaker, Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall, who sustained severe injuries while covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. His road to recovery occurred at BAMC after he was transferred from Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany.

NAMRU San Antonio’s mission is to conduct gap-driven combat casualty care, craniofacial, and directed energy research to improve survival, operational readiness, and safety of Department of Defense personnel engaged in routine and expeditionary operations.

It is one of the leading research and development laboratories for the U.S. Navy under the DOD and is one of eight subordinate research commands in the global network of laboratories operating under the Naval Medical Research Command in Silver Spring, Maryland.