Celebrating America's veterans

We marked Veterans Day with a ceremony at APhA headquarters, one made all the more meaningful by the events of last week at Fort Hood.

Reflecting on those who are serving or have served our country, I recalled an October visit I made with APhA staffer and former Navy pharmacist Duane Tackitt to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. For the American Pharmacists Month celebration, we were hosted by NNMC Pharmacy Chief, Commander Tingh (Tin) Ha, MSC, USN.

After a tour of the pharmacy facility and a visit with some troops in the BTC (Brain Trauma Center), I met with the NNMC Commander, Rear Adm. Matthew Nathan, Medical Corps, USN. Nathan is in charge of NNMC and also the merger of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and NNMC. The logistics, personnel, and systems issues are daunting, but I was impressed with Nathan’s clear understanding and direction.

Back at NNMC, we had lunch and a follow-up meeting with the pharmacy leadership, including Cmdr. Ha; Lt. Ben Schwartz, Assistant Chief, HMC (Chief Petty Officer); and Robert Wagenman, Pharmacy Technician Advisor to the Pharmacy Specialty Leader. Together with a number of volunteers from all walks of life -- including pharmacists and technicians -- these sailors provide excellent pharmacy services to active duty and retired Navy personnel and families in the area. To a person, they exuded pride in their work and a determination to serve their patients and our country.

Many of the professionals I met have been or will be in harm’s way to support our troops, who are themselves in danger wherever they are serving. Our colleagues in uniform deserve our continued support. It was a privilege to meet them last month and to honor America's veterans today.