June 22, 2024

Environmental Science officer receives Order of Military Medical Merit

LANDSTUHL, Germany — A Public Health Command Europe Director of Environmental Health Sciences was recently inducted into the Order of Military Medical Merit for his accomplishments during his career.

The Order of Military Medical Merit is a unique, private organization, founded by the Commanding General of U.S. Army Health Services Command in April 1982 that recognizes excellence and promotes fellowship and esprit de corps among Army Medical Department personnel.

Membership in the Order recognizes those individuals who have clearly demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character, displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence, served in the Army Medical Department (for a minimum of 10 years) with selflessness, and have made sustained contributions to the betterment of Army Medicine.

Lt. Col. Paul Hester, Director of Environmental Health Sciences, was nominated by Col. Paul Lang, Public Health Command Europe Commander.

“Since 2016 Lt. Col. Hester has been foundational to the execution of the environmental health mission across Europe, Africa and the Middle East,” said Lang. “His passion for public health has driven his personal drive to train and educate above and beyond his peers. He directly influenced the update and revision of doctrine, practice and regulations integrating overseas requirements for environmental health services to keep service members and their families safe.”

The O2M3 shows distinguished service which is recognized by the senior leadership of the AMEDD. During the formal banquet of the annual International Military Veterinary Symposium which is held in Garmisch, Germany, Hester was given a certificate and a handsome medallion that signifies that he is a member of the Order.

“I enjoyed being a veterinarian, but the public health mission is very broad, so I wanted to pursue all of the areas, such as human, animal and environmental,” said Hester. “As an environmental science and engineering officer I am able to tap into all areas of public health.”

Hester, joined the U.S. Army as a veterinarian in 2006 but voluntarily retrained two years later and became a Medical Service Corps officer.

It is the role of an environmental science and engineering officer to identify and evaluate potential health risks and develop a course of action to control or prevent disease, illness, and injury.

According to Hester, it is a fulfilling mission.

“We are the safety net for all service members and their families,” said Hester. “If there’s an issue that isn’t covered by a different entity, we step in and provide the expertise and experience to solve the issue.”

Hester served in Afghanistan during “Operation Enduring Freedom” in 2011 as a standard force health protection asset.

During his tour, Hester received a Purple Heart from wounds received in combat by a Taliban IED blast.

“Recovery in a remote location was challenging but I continued with the public health mission,” said Hester. “I was able to develop a method of using rudimentary materials to provide clean drinking water to impoverished communities in Afghanistan.”

Environmental Health Sciences is a directorate in Public Health Command Europe that focuses on the impact of the environment on the person and conversely the impact of the people on the environment which affects others. Environmental Health fosters safe and healthy military communities and surrounding areas by identifying and evaluating what is in the environment that directly or indirectly affects the person. This includes the areas of air, water, food, soil, climate, chemicals, sanitation, and bugs (like mosquitos and ticks).

EHS also works with garrisons and units to reduce the risk of environmental exposure to things that could be harmful to themselves or those around them such as chemicals and spills. EHS does this through inspection, testing, evaluation and reporting for legal compliance, teaching, and education.

For more information follow “Public Health Command Europe” on Facebook.

Date Taken: 06.03.2024
Date Posted: 06.03.2024 04:44
Story ID: 472843

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