A Veterans Day Tribute
Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
Today, we celebrate Veterans Day. On this special day, let us pause and salute all who have served and honor the tremendous sacrifices made by members of the U.S. armed forces and their families to preserve our freedom.
This occasion also gives us an opportunity to acknowledge the many important contributions of the veterans who are now working here at NIH. Currently, our agency employs about 1,000 veterans and is making a concerted effort to add even more to our ranks. As a result of these outreach and recruitment efforts, NIH hired 122 veterans during fiscal year 2014… 48 of whom were disabled veterans, I’m proud to report.
As is the case for everyone who works at NIH, these veterans are using their knowledge, skills, and experience to help advance NIH’s mission. In fact, I’d like to share a thought from one of these veterans, Jayne Lura-Brown, a program analyst at our National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. In her profile on the “Jobs at NIH” web site, this Navy veteran says: “No matter what level or type of career we find ourselves in, NIH has something for us—that something that we all want, which is the chance, or another chance—to do something meaningful and to continue to be a part of something GREAT.”
For Jayne and other NIH veterans, their next chance includes pursuing medical, hospital, dental, and public health careers. Their new mission is to fight cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other common disabling disorders, bringing their unique military training and resolve to help turn scientific discoveries into better health for all. For any veteran interested in joining us at NIH, I’m including links at the bottom of this post to help you get started.
Last week, Jayne helped to organize the third annual NIH Veterans Day Celebration. I participated in the event and was inspired by the life story of the keynote speaker, Retired Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr. Fifty years ago, as a young man based on a Navy aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, Alvarez became the first pilot shot down and held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. After eight grueling years of captivity, he returned home as the second longest-held POW in U.S. history. Today, you would never know it. His quick sense of humor and successful career in business speak volumes about a life well served, inside and outside of the military.
But we must never forget that not all return. As a reminder, the Setting of the Missing Man Table was performed during the NIH ceremony. This moving military tradition pays special tribute to a soldier missing, fallen, or imprisoned. I’d like to share a video of the Setting of the Missing Man Table in special appreciation on this Veterans Day.
Veterans, I know that I speak for all of us at NIH in offering sincere thanks for your personal sacrifices, past and present. We will continue to open our doors to you at NIH, and we look forward to working alongside more veterans in the future.