Lt. Col. Diana Weber is no stranger to the military nor the Dental Corps.
The daughter of a retired Army endodontist, Weber grew up immersed in the Army culture. Now serving as the commander of Fort Gordon’s Dental Command (DENTAC), Weber largely credits her experiences as a military child with her decision to join the military.
“It’s been an absolutely great experience traveling around the world and getting to understand diverse cultures … you (gain an) appreciation for different types of living and insight into different philosophies and beliefs,” she said.
While the military has taken Weber’s family around the world, in many ways, she is rooted at Fort Gordon. Her father, Dr. Donald W. Wells, was stationed at Fort Gordon during the 1980s and was the first Fort Gordon endodontic resident to be named as Diplomate, American Board of Endodontics. A plaque bearing his name hangs on a wall in Brigadier General Tingay Dental Clinic, which is one of three clinics on Fort Gordon that Weber oversees.
A combination of the lifestyle, her father’s accomplishments then eventually her younger brother are what ultimately inspired Weber to join.
“What I loved about growing up with my dad and mom was the fact that I would always see my dad serve, but he would also be a Soldier,” Weber said.
One of the most impressionable memories she has of her father was him earning his Air Assault Badge as a colonel. He was the oldest person in his class, she said, but that did not deter him from going for it.
“I just loved seeing the aspect that it didn’t matter whether you were in one of the healthcare fields or infantry, artillery … you still had the opportunity to participate in Soldier readiness skills and training.”
As for her brother’s influence, Weber said he graduated from West Point then cross-branched to the Air Force.
“I thought, ‘I can do that,’ and that’s kind of how it happened,” she said of her decision to join.
Weber was commissioned in the U.S. Army Dental Corps after graduating from Westminster College in Pennsylvania with a double major in biology and business administration. From there, she attended the University of Maryland under the Health Professions Scholarship Program and completed a 12-month Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where she served as a general dentist and deployed to Iraq. Following a two-year orthodontics residency at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Weber was assigned to Fort Gordon as the Chief, Department of Orthodontics under the U.S. Army Fort Gordon Dental Activity. She went on to serve as deputy commander of a dental region and deputy chief of staff of a medical region before assuming her most recent role.
Out of all the assignments she has had and places she has been, Weber said she is most proud of where she is now.
“I’ve been so lucky,” Weber said. “The folks here are phenomenal, I have a phenomenal team, and I could not do anything without the team that I have.”
Weber oversees three clinics on Fort Gordon: Brigadier General Tingay Dental Clinic, Snyder Dental Clinic, and the Hospital Dental Clinic. She is also responsible for two clinics at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and U.S. Southern Command dental.
Brigadier General Tingay Dental Clinic, the Army’s “premiere post-graduate dental school” and multi-disciplinary clinic, is where all prosthodontists in the Army receive their training. In addition to creating caps, crowns, bridges, dentures, prosthodontists also create ears and eye balls for patients who have suffered trauma. Tingay is also the training platform for all of the Army’s periodontists and half of the Army’s endodontists (the other half train at Fort Bragg, North Carolina).
Snyder Dental Clinic provides dental care for approximately 15,000 service members, with a special focus on not only cyber and signal Soldiers as part of their advanced individual training (AIT), but also permanent party cyber and signal Soldiers’ readiness exams, cleaning and filling appointments, and basic specialty care such as tooth extraction and crowns.
“We treat the AIT students for sick call and any dental problems that are likely to cause a challenges within one year, because we want to try to complete that treatment prior to them going to their next duty station,” Weber explained.
The Hospital Dental Clinic provides everything from readiness exams and cleaning appointments to specialty care such as oral maxillofacial surgery. It also supports the Army’s Advanced Education Program in oral and maxillofacial surgery, with emphasis on trauma and orthognathic (jaw) surgery.
In addition to overseeing those clinics and the patients/staff who occupy them, Weber makes a point to treat patients at least one half day each week – something she enjoys immensely and that helps ensure her orthodontic skills remain up to par.
“I love seeing the Soldiers and learning what they’re doing because they are just so unique and they absolutely deserve the best care that we can provide to them.”
Reflecting on Women’s History Month and what it means to her, Weber said it is impossible to single out just one female role model since there have been countless women who helped mold her into the person she is today, adding that it’s still important to observe this month.
“It reminds us of the legacy of those women who have completed their journeys and paved the way before us – our moms, our grandmothers, and our great grandmothers,” she said. “It also sets the stage for our daughters on the possibilities and aspirations in the future, especially in the area of science, technology, engineering and math … and highlighting real world examples of those who were able to achieve those accomplishments in the past.”
Her advice to women and key to succeeding in the military is to “be present, be prepared, be purposeful in all that you do to ensure the success of all those around you.”
“You can do anything as long as you work hard and you put in 110 percent,” Weber said.
Weber is married to Maj. Jake Weber, a signal officer with U.S. Army Cyber Command. They have two children, ages 13 and 11.