By Mr. Jeffrey M Soares (Army Medicine)May 25, 2017
At the end of May, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity will bid a heartfelt farewell to an esteemed colleague, as Teri Glass begins a new chapter of her life after more than three decades of service to our nation. Arriving at USAMMDA in 2007, Glass has played an integral role as a logistician in both the Pharmaceutical Systems Project Management Office and the Medial Support Systems PMO, where she also served as acting project manager.
As a retired U.S. Army senior noncommissioned officer, Glass spent over 20 years traveling the world, completing tours that took her to locations including Germany, Hawaii and Honduras, Panama as part of Operation Just Cause, and the Middle East, where she served in both Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. She has seen and done much more than the average person, and by the expression on her face during our conversation, she has truly enjoyed each and every moment.
However, she tells me her upcoming mission may perhaps bring her the most satisfaction -- but let's provide a bit of history first.
Raised in Dayton, Ohio, Glass grew up in a family dedicated to service. Her father had joined the Army, as well as her sister, and Glass had hoped to pursue a nursing career to help take care of others. Known primarily as the hometown of Wilbur and Orville Wright and the birthplace of aviation, Dayton was vibrant with automobile factories and other types of industrialism while Glass progressed through her schooling years. Nevertheless, the world awaited her, and she knew it.
Time became an adversary to completing her degree, however, and Glass soon realized that the military could help to fulfill her desire to serve while also providing an avenue for higher education, not to mention world travel. Although her intent was to train as a nurse, the Army recognized much hidden talent in Glass -- perhaps inherent in her DNA -- and she was led down the path of a logistics specialist.
"I wanted to be a nurse, but the Army asked me to be a logistician, and I really grew to enjoy it," she explained. "I started to love the organizational and planning aspect of it, and it truly became a part of my life.
"But the really interesting part of my being brought into Army logistics," she continued, "is that my [maternal] grandmother worked for the Air Force as a civilian, and she was a logistician as well! But I didn't discover this until after I had already been serving for quite a while."
Glass said this special link to her grandmother gave her a feeling similar to déjà vu, which still continues until today.
"My grandmother was always traveling on business when I was young, but she never could tell me much about her trips, because her work was very confidential. She would always bring me match books for a collection I had, and these would be from all over the country -- it was very intriguing!"
Many would say that Glass's own career has been very intriguing as well. Her military service can only be viewed as nothing short of stellar, given the duration and the list of tours she completed. In fact, Glass received a Bronze Star Medal for her service in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, and this remains an honor of which she is very proud.
However, she has become accustomed to honors over the years, because of her outstanding leadership and work ethic. While serving as acting project manager for the MSS PMO, Glass was very involved with USAMMDA's Medical Prototype Development Laboratory, during which time she and her team created the Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) kit, which is about the size of a suitcase and facilitates the rapid conversion of various non-ambulance vehicles into medical evacuation vehicles.
The state-of-the-art CASEVAC is both vital and revolutionary, and has been hailed as a critical lifesaving device. Because of their achievement, Glass and her team received the 2010 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for National Security and International Affairs. This accomplishment is so significant that it has been documented in the U.S. Congressional Record of the 111th Congress, Second Session (Senate), and featured as an article in the Washington Post.
Along with the CASEVAC, Glass was also essential in the development and fielding of numerous Army medical products including the individual first aid kit, the combat application tourniquet and the patient litter carrier. And she will be quick to tell you, her work in producing lifesaving products was done always with the Warfighter in mind -- first and foremost.
"I really love logistics, and developing products from start to finish for our Warfighters -- I am very proud of this," said Glass. "I will miss talking directly with Soldiers to find out about our products, and getting their feedback firsthand. Our Service Members count on the work we do here at USAMMDA, and this was truly the best part of my job."
As she winds down in her current position, Glass is preparing to move back to Dayton so she can be near her family. Unfortunately, the years have seen the gradual deterioration of the Ohio city, as many factories have closed down, jobs have dried up, and many townspeople have been left with little fortune and even less hope.
But this is where Glass's next mission begins, with a new role in her old hometown.
"After I spend the summer with my grandson and my family, I plan on opening up a shelter for homeless veterans in the Dayton area," she said. "Right now, I am looking for property, and Ohio has a program where you can purchase vacant homes for one dollar, as long as you renovate them and bring them up to code within a certain timeframe."
Glass intends to start small, with perhaps a three- or four-bedroom house, and eventually expand to property the size of a small hotel, if possible. She says there are many homeless veterans who need help, not only with finding shelter but also with jump-starting their employment.
As the treasurer of the Frederick, Maryland, Disabled American Veterans organization, Glass has seen many cases of veterans in need. She is also a Service Officer to help veterans with their disability claims. One thing that stands out for her is the fact that there are very few shelters for female veterans, which creates a difficult situation in a number of instances.
Said Glass, "I worked with a female veteran from the Frederick area, and it took quite a bit of time and a number of moves to finally place her in a facility in the Baltimore area. But I kept following up to make sure she was alright, and now she is doing much better, although she still has a way to go."
No, Glass doesn't just throw money at these types of situations -- she prefers teaching others "how to fish."
"I believe that all homeless people should be given jobs to earn money and get on their feet," she said. "If you're homeless, your pride shouldn't get in the way, right?"
In this day and age, it's quite refreshing to find someone so genuinely concerned about the welfare of others. It makes you want to do something good in the world as well.
Actually, this type of selflessness makes the world a better place.
The next step for Glass involves taking some classes in small business, to become familiar with specific state laws and regulations in establishing homeless shelters. She currently holds a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration with a minor in business, so she certainly has the foundational knowledge to begin this venture, along with the passion.
Many will miss seeing Glass's cheerful smile on a daily basis, as her positive outlook helped to bolster the USAMMDA team on many occasions. Clearly, this appreciation runs all the way up the chain.
"We owe Teri a great deal of thanks for her dedication, service and sacrifices over a long and successful career," said William E. Geesey, USAMMDA commander. "She is probably one of the few people, because of her tenure here at USAMMDA, who has seen a number of our products move from very early in development, to actual licensure and fielding. She was an important part of our mission, and I wish her all the best in her retirement and future endeavors."
At her retirement ceremony, Glass received numerous certificates in recognition of her service, including letters from Lt. Gen. Nadja West, Army Surgeon General and commanding general U.S. Army Medical Command and Maj. Gen. Barbara Holcomb, commanding general U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick, and citations from the governors of both Maryland and Ohio.
Glass was visibly moved by this show of appreciation and was very pleased to see many co-workers and friends in attendance. In her typical humble manner, she addressed the group and thanked them for their support over the years.
"My dad taught me that if you want to be happy in your relationships, at work, and in life, you have to be trustworthy and reliable," she said. "So today, I pray that I have built a reputation of being reliable, and that I have always been trustworthy!"
Judging from the applause and well wishes following her remarks, it seems clear that Glass has certainly established an amazing reputation that will shine for many years, and will impact many people. Her optimistic attitude and desire to help others will be a great asset to Glass as she takes on her new task of establishing a homeless shelter for veterans in Ohio.
Given her history, there is little doubt that she will make it happen -- it's all a matter of logistics.