The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine team joined by Army Brig. Gen. David Trybula, senior commander of Natick Soldier Systems Center, came together for a surprise ceremony to honor new inductees to the Order of Military Medical Merit on March 10. Trybula presented Army Lt. Col. Robin Cushing, USARIEM’s medical director for the Office of Medical Support and Oversight and public health emergency officer, and Army Lt. Col. Bradley Ritland, military deputy of the Military Performance Division, with the Order of Military Medical Merit medallion and a certificate signifying their membership to the order.
“These two individuals have done some fantastic things,” said Trybula, named an honorary O2M3 member in 2017. “This is something to strive for. This is a permanent recognition of excellence.”
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 to recognize excellence and promote fellowship and esprit de corps among Army Medical Department personnel. Membership in the Order denotes distinguished service, which is recognized by the senior leadership of the AMEDD.
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 15 years) with selflessness, and have made a sustained contribution to the betterment of Army Medicine. More information about the O2M3 can be found at https://achh.army.mil/regiment/merit-o2m3.
Cushing began her career as an Army Officer in 2002, serving in the Signal Corps until graduating from the Interservice Physician Assistant Program in 2006. Since, Cushing has held multiple positions and leadership roles within the AMEDD. Cushing served as a battalion Physician Assistant with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, the 555 Engineer Brigade at Joint Base Lewis McChord, and with the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley. She earned her Doctorate of Public Health through the University of Hawaii in 2017. In current role, she serves as the medical director for the Office of Medical Support and Oversight at USARIEM. In 2020, Cushing was appointed as the Public Health Emergency Officer for NSSC, where her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic significantly limited COVID-associated morbidity and mortality on the installation.
In receiving this honor, Cushing praised her mentors and her team.
“I want to thank every mentor I’ve ever met… It means a lot for peers to nominate you,” said Cushing.
Ritland’s career as an Army Officer in the Army Medical Specialist Corps started in 2004 after graduating from Marquette University. Ritland, who is a graduate of the Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy, first served as an Army physical therapist at Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington. From there, Ritland was assigned to the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division (5/2 SBCT) where he served as the Brigade Physical Therapist and deployed to Southern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After returning from his deployment, Ritland became the chief of amputee physical therapy services at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and helped transition the outpatient amputee physical therapy services to the new joint Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Ritland, who also earned his Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Maryland, now serves as the military deputy for the Military Performance Division at USARIEM.
Ritland said receiving this honor means a lot to him.
“I’m very appreciative of this recognition. I feel truly blessed to wear this uniform and all the experiences that I have had wearing it. Any small contribution that I have made was because of the strong team and support around me.”
Army Col. Troy Morton, O2M3 order member since 2017, praised Cushing and Ritland’s leadership, dedication and professionalism to the Soldier and the mission.
Morton challenged the attendees to think like Cushing who believes in the mission and that her primary role is to support Soldiers.
“Do we all have the same heart as Lt. Col. Cushing. Look at what she’s done for us, not only us, but for the Garrison.” To Cushing he said, “Thank you, you are an ideal Soldier.”
Morton spoke of Ritland’s work ethic and his dependability.
“Lt. Col. Ritland is reliable, he is compassionate, and he is driven. Lt. Col. Ritland is an example for all.”
Following the ceremony, Cushing and Ritland stood with fellow members of the O2M3. Trybula and Morton advised their fellow Soldiers to strive to follow in Cushing, Ritland and the O2M3 members footsteps and work towards this honor.
USARIEM is a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command under the Army Futures Command. USARIEM is internationally recognized as the DOD's premier laboratory for Warfighter health and performance research and focuses on environmental medicine, physiology, physical and cognitive performance, and nutrition research. Located in Natick. Massachusetts, USARIEM’s mission is to optimize Warfighter health and performance through medical research. The Institute’s five divisions – Biophysics and Biomedical Modeling; Military Nutrition; Military Performance; Thermal and Mountain Medicine; and Research Support – leverage unique capabilities and facilities with industry, academia, and the government. Military guidance has been published for operations in heat, cold, and high-altitude environments and nutrition for health and performance.