FALLS CHURCH, Va. (NNS) – Vice Adm. Forrest Faison, Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, honored Cmdr. Erin M. Simmons as she posthumously received the 2019 Navy Hero of Military Medicine Award at the Heroes of Military Medicine Awards dinner May 9, 2019.
Each year, three service members from the Navy, Army and Air Force are selected to receive the Hero of Military Medicine Award. This year, Cmdr. Erin Simmons was selected to posthumously receive the Navy Hero of Military Medicine Award for her outstanding service and selfless dedication to enhancing the lives of the patients she touched. Simmons passed in a motor vehicle accident while on post deployment leave in August 2018.
Vice Adm. Faison described Simmons as a “true leader” in the Navy Medicine community and acknowledged her many accomplishments, most notably, her commitment to mental health programs.
From 2004 to 2005, she deployed to Fallujah, Iraq with the Marine Corps’ First Medical Battalion, and then to Ramadi, Iraq in 2008 with the Army’s 62nd Task Force, 56th Brigade. In 2013, she conducted “Battlefield Rounds” with Sailors and Marines in Afghanistan.
Simmons created and directed three intensive outpatient programs addressing posttraumatic stress disorder, mild traumatic brain injury and general mental health. She led the mental health crisis response mission in Yokosuka, Japan following the USS Fitzgerald collision in June 2017 and was most recently deployed on the USNS Mercy from January to July 2018.
She served as a Navy Medicine psychologist for 15 years and completed tours at Naval Hospital Okinawa, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton.
From 2013 to 2015, she was embedded in the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC), then served her remaining two years at Naval Medical Center San Diego as the Division Officer of the Navy’s only residential PTSD program, OASIS.
Faison closed his remarks by saying, “We don’t measure our service in time. We measure it in the number of lives we touched. Cmdr. Simmons certainly touched many lives and her legacy lives on.”
Cmdr. Simmons’ husband, Jesse, accepted the award on Simmons’ behalf and thanked everyone for recognizing his late wife. “Her patients came first and her programs were focused on them, but she developed numerous programs for providers as well,” said Jesse.
He described Simmons as a champion of cutting-edge mental health programs and noted, “If she were here today, she would still be continuing her work.”
Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 personnel that provides health care support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.