Army Physician Assistant is being All She Can Be

By Manuel Menendez and John PenaJune 27, 2023

Maj. Lena Witham
Maj. Lena Witham (Photo Credit: National Guard photo by Sgt. First Class Orie Bartlett) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Be All You Can Be” is not just a phrase for Major Lena Witham but an inspiration to becoming All She Can Be! Maj. Witham enlisted in the Maine Army National Guard as flight paramedic 20 years ago. Utilizing her GI Bill and tuition assistance, she completed her college degree University of Maine, Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition (2008) and applied to Western Michigan University Physician Assistant (PA) program (2011). After graduating from PA school, you attended the AMEDD Basic Officer Leader Course

Maj. Witham started out her career in the demanding field of cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery. Shortly after commissioning she soon discovered that she wanted to do more in her National Guard unit. She transitioned to working in a walk-in care clinic three days a week. This allowed her to receive specialty training in aviation medicine at the Army Flight Surgeon Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama in 2012. “The best part of being a Physician Assistant is the flexibility of our career. We have the option to find what works best for us during different phases of our life,” says Maj. Witham. Maj. Witham’s exposure to aviation medicine and desire to serve more in her National Guard unit afforded her to have the most availability for her Soldiers on flight status. She has since been serving as an Aeromedical Physician Assistant in the Maine Army National Guard. Maj. Witham also states, “being available for my Soldiers throughout the month is so important for them to maintain their proficiency and readiness with flying.”

Although Maj. Witham is a certified Physician Assistant, she demonstrated that the possibilities in the Army are endless. She recently returned from a 10-month long deployment to Poland serving as the Regional Support Group’s (RSG) Public Affairs Officer. When she learned of the deployment, she quickly volunteered. However, additional medical support was not required due to the mission of the RSG. Instead, another unique opportunity presented itself to Maj. Witham. The RSG needed a Public Affairs Officer (PAO) to provide public affairs advice, communication planning, and media training to the RSG commander and other senior leaders in the RSG.  Despite having limited knowledge of the duties of a PAO and after discussing with her family, she saw this as a great opportunity and volunteered for this position. Subsequently, Maj Witham attended the Public Affairs and Communication Strategy Qualification Course, earning additional credentials and qualifications as a PAO that creates and executes communication plans that collectively sets the narrative for the Army. “Being a staff officer and strategic communicator for a brigade on deployment was a great opportunity to expand my knowledge and overall view of the Army,” says Maj. Witham.

Maj Witham is not just all work; in her off time, she enjoys riding her horse and spending precious time with her family. Between job assignments, travel, and educational benefits, the opportunities are endless in the Army. Maj. Witham finishes by saying, “In the National Guard, I am able to have a great balance between my civilian career, family, and serving our great country.”