It’s a home and a ranch for Lt. Col. Sandi Parriott, the former director of U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity’s Force Health Protection Directorate after retiring from USAMMDA after 20 years of service.
During her three years at USAMMDA, she led an aggressive response to provide treatments for patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 virus infections. The focus was to save lives through the early operationalization of Investigational New Drugs (IND) and/or Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA). Her team used IND expanded access protocols and facilitated delivery of EUA medications to enable more than 27-thousand treatment courses worldwide in support of COVID-19 response and a host of associated best practices and efficiencies designed to support the Warfighter and, ultimately, the world.
Her demeanor is matter of fact, and she is enthusiastic as she talks about what is next after retirement.
“Retirement is a ranch and taking care of my family [putting them first for a change] and then taking care of myself,” she said. “I completed a U.S. Army career bridge program.” She went on to say that anyone interested in going into agribusiness could benefit from the 11 week program, called ‘Battle Ground to Breaking Ground.’
According to Parriott, the boots to business program is just one step to her next assignment as a civilian.
“I learned the ‘ins-and-outs’ of running an agribusiness, such as ranching and the contacts you need at the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] or your county extension agent and farmer-veteran coalition. I got a network built and got a lot of training.”
It is a step that builds on her long and successful career with the Army, Parriott related.
When asked about highlights, she said establishing a veterinary clinic in Northern Afghanistan, from rocks on the ground to a full-service clinic in 93 days, was one. “That took a lot of planning, thought, resourcing and networking,” she said. “Working with what you’ve got and making it successful.”
Another challenge was commanding a brigade-size element, encompassing 13 states and the District of Columbia, as well as Northeastern states and the Azores. She listed her area of responsibility as 72 installations and 14 veterinary clinics with personnel on 25 of the 72.
Parriott has had her share of challenges. Networking across distances to get things done and motivating and training brand new veterinarians on what Army veterinarians do, which is not just the pet care and military working dogs, for example. U.S. Army veterinarians care for camels, goats and horses as well as conducting food inspections, which ensures food safety she said.
“Most people don’t know all the things we do,” she said. “U.S. Army veterinarians have to think about how we defend our water sources and the food and ways to avoid being vulnerable to terrorist attack and food borne illness.”
USAMMDA chose Parriott to lead a team during the global pandemic. She quoted the directorate’s mantra, “Right product, right place, and the right time.”
“Because of my leadership, my mission and my team, this has been the best job I’ve had in the Army,” Parriott said. “The FHP team is dedicated to the mission [every single one of them], so it made my job very, very easy. We came up with some very efficient, creative and innovative solutions to make things move faster.”
“We learned from our experiences,” she said. “I want to thank everyone for allowing me to lead this amazing team and for allowing me to move this mission forward.”
Today moving forward means fulfilling her dream of being a cattle-rancher, living close to family and being a wife and mom who is not on active duty.
“When you think about Lt. Col. Parriott’s career, she didn’t join right out of high school. She had a thriving career before she came in the Army,” said Christopher Weselek, FHP team member and project manager. “She gave all that up to serve her country. Twenty years is a long time. You’ve made such a huge impact on all of us.”
Referring to the small team’s fast and efficient response to a global pandemic, according to Weselek. “She took us where we needed to be. [She] was the right leader at the right time.”