FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Sergeant First Class Jamie Hendzel was inducted into the Order of Military Medical Merit July 8 during a ceremony at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital.
The Order of Military Medical Merit, or O2M3, is a private organization founded in April 1982 by then-Maj. Gen. Raymond H. Bishop Jr., commanding general, U.S. Army Health Services Command. The order recognizes excellence, promotes fellowship and esprit de corps among Army Medical Department, or AMEDD, personnel.
To receive the award, candidates must be nominated by an existing member and have presented a level of service and contribution commensurate to a senior level officer – typically lieutenant and above – and senior level noncommissioned officer – normally master sergeant and above.
Hendzel said she is honored to be inducted into O2M3 and never imagined when she enlisted that she would receive this distinction.
“I had a couple senior leaders who said they would submit the form on my behalf, so it felt good that I had leaders, past and present, who believed in me to be my nominators,” she said.
While Hendzel wasn’t surprised to be nominated, she wasn’t prepared to make it into the order. Receiving the news that she would be officially recognized as part of O2M3 was a shock.
“That was the surprise to me,” Hendzel said. “I sometimes feel that I may not have done as much in my Army career as others have and to be submitted for something with this kind of impact it felt very exciting.”
During her time at Fort Campbell Hendzel has served in many roles, said Master Sgt. Cinnamon Wright, BACH adjutant, during the ceremony.
“While serving as NCOIC [noncommissioned officer in charge] for the Women’s Health Clinic, her dedication and personal efforts there ensured their ability to continue their mission to provide the highest quality of care while minimizing the spread of COVID-19,” Wright said.
Hendzel also served as a brigade MEDEVAC NCO during Operation Enduring Freedom and a medical platoon sergeant for 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
“326th BEB became the No. 1 ranked battalion in 1st BCT out of seven battalions because of their medical readiness,” she said, adding Hendzel spearheaded the creation of the first lactation room in the brigade.
Without her Family’s and team’s encouragement, Hendzel said she may not have tried for the nomination to the Order of Military Medical Merit.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have leaders and supervisors who let me do my job, but also expand on it which allowed me to be able to do more,” she said. “Encouraging your Soldiers and NCOs to do more is the best thing a leader can do and is a big motivator.”
One of those motivating leaders was retired Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Santiago, who pushed Hendzel to go to the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club board and out of her comfort zone.
“I did it and was selected,” she said. “It’s those moments that make you feel like you can do more and prove it to yourself that you can.”
Hendzel also credits the support of her husband, a former Apache pilot, their children and her mother for her successful career.
“My kids get a kick out of coming to the awards ceremony and seeing mom get a medal, and my mom is so proud. She’ll tell anyone who will listen what I’m up to,” she said. “My dad passed away a few years ago and it hurts that I can’t tell him, but I know he knows.”
Having an impact
While Hendzel cannot point to specific events that led to this moment, what has defined her career is always doing her job to the best of her ability.
“It’s about taking care of my Soldiers and my team both professionally and personally and ensuring the beneficiaries are taken care of,” she said. “Then when you sit back and reflect on things you realize that you actually did do things that held an impact.”
Hendzel said she never thought she would stay in the Army long enough to be near retirement. But looking back on her career, she can’t imagine having done anything differently.
Soon, she will move from BACH to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div. to become the battalion medic for 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. Once in-processed, Hendzel will join the unit on their deployment to Europe, she said.
“I am excited to get back to the Soldiers and the division side of being a medic,” Hendzel said. “Not long after returning to post, I will be able to submit my retirement packet. It’s crazy to think about, but I’m also excited and curious what this next journey of life will hold.”
The best advice Hendzel can give to other Army medics is to always do your best.
“What you do does have meaning and it’s best not to compare yourself and your career to another,” Hendzel said.