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Servicemembers demonstrate grace under fire

The 99th Medical Group, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada receives the 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Ambassador Award in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2018, for the life-saving efforts of three of its airmen during the tragic Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017. Army Maj. Gen. (retired) Joseph Caravalho (right), president, Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine presented the award to the 99th MG. (MHS photo) The 99th Medical Group, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada receives the 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Ambassador Award in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2018, for the life-saving efforts of three of its airmen during the tragic Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017. Army Maj. Gen. (retired) Joseph Caravalho (right), president, Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine presented the award to the 99th MG. (MHS photo)

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Military medical professionals were recently honored in Washington, D.C., at the 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Awards, hosted by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. During the gala, honorees were recognized for distinguishing themselves through excellence and selfless dedication.

“The Military Health System and its people have an endless capacity to astound and an inexhaustible supply of courage, discipline, and skill.” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffery, speaking to more than 350 attendees at the 8th annual gala.

Air Force Col. William E. Nelson, chief, integrated and international operational medicine, 711th Human Performance Wing, is presented a 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Award in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2018, by Army Maj. Gen. (retired) Joseph Caravalho, president, Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. Colonel Nelson was recognized for his exemplary career as an Air Force flight surgeon and for his contributions to the Air Force Integrated Operational Support mission. (Courtesy photo by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine)Air Force Col. William E. Nelson, chief, integrated and international operational medicine, 711th Human Performance Wing, is presented a 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Award in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2018, by Army Maj. Gen. (retired) Joseph Caravalho, president, Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. Colonel Nelson was recognized for his exemplary career as an Air Force flight surgeon and for his contributions to the Air Force Integrated Operational Support mission. (Courtesy photo by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine)

Included among the honorees were three airmen from the 99th Medical Group, 99th Air Base Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The 99th MG was awarded the Hero of Military Medicine Ambassador Award for the selfless actions of these three on the evening of October 1, when a gunman opened fire at a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 and wounding 489. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alyson Venegas, Senior Airman Linda Wilson, and Senior Airman Logan Bennett, all aerospace medical technicians, were attending the concert when chaos broke out. They immediately delivered life-saving care and put themselves at risk to help others. “There was no doubt about it,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t fight or flight, it was fight.”

McCaffery said the courage of the award winners serves as an important reminder to those in leadership positions. “We may not be asked to crouch in ditches or provide care under enemy fire,” he said. “We are asked, however, that these heroes, and thousands like them, have the tools they need; the chance to acquire skills they need; and that we invest all we possibly can in them and their patients.”

U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup from Ohio’s 2nd District received the Hero of Military Medicine Senior Leader Award. Wenstrup, now a colonel, joined the Army Reserve in 1998. In 2005-2006, he deployed to Iraq as a combat surgeon. Currently Wenstrup fulfills his Reserve duties treating patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Air Force Col. William Nelson received the Air Force Hero of Military Medicine Award. Nelson’s 27-year career has taken him across the world. He commanded the 39th Medical Operations Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the Air Force’s largest overseas aeromedical squadron. At present, he executes strategy for the Air Force’s 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Army Maj. Andrew Fisher received the Army Hero of Military Medicine Award. Fisher joined in 1992 as an infantryman. He is a second-year medical student at Texas A&M College of Medicine and also serves in the Texas National Guard as a physician assistant.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Schuyler B. Nesbitt received the Navy Hero of Military Medicine Award. Nesbitt provided medical care on the USNS Comfort in Cuba, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. He currently serves in the 1st Marine Division, where he deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, delivered the keynote address, calling for innovation and research efforts to continually improve the level of care provided to troops on the frontlines. “I am asking you to find innovative and transformational changes in battlefield medicine that will not make us choose between saving lives and being judicious with precious limited resources,” he said.


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