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DoD commends AFRRI
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DoD commends AFRRI for response to terrorism

 
DoD commendation
Photo: D. Morse (AFRRI)
In a ceremony on May 26, 2004, Dr. James A. Zimble, M.D., president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and Colonel David G. Jarrett (right), director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, unveil the DoD's Joint Meritorious Unit Award to AFRRI employees. At left is Colonel Charles S. Serio, Brigade Commander of the USUHS.

Washington, Feb. 17, 2004—The Department of Defense has recognized the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute for its achievements "in response to acts of terrorism and nuclear/radiological threats at home and abroad." The DoD Joint Meritorious Unit Award citation, signed by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on Feb. 17, 2004, commends the Institute's "exceptionally meritorious achievement" from Sept. 11, 2001, to June 20, 2003.

The Institute employs some 150 military and civilian personnel, including scientists, healthcare professionals, managers, and technical, creative, and administrative specialists. Established in 1961 as a joint agency of the three military departments and under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Institute is now administered by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

"This prestigious award belongs to all Institute employees, each of whom contributed to the organization's ability to respond immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and to continue to provide expert advice, training, and research in support of national antiterrorism programs," said Director David G. Jarrett, Colonel, Medical Corps, U.S. Army.

During the period of the award, Colonel Robert R. Eng, Medical Service, U.S. Army, was the Institute director. "The specifics in the citation bring back memories of adrenalin flow, 24-hour armed security guards, high-level meetings, and recognition of AFRRI as a national asset by Dr. John Marburger, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy," wrote Eng from his current assignment as the director of the Proponency Office for Preventative Medicine at U.S. Army Medical Command at Fort Sam Houston, TX. "The award was made possible because each and every person at AFRRI attacked the problems, did the research, and came up with rock-solid solutions for the Defense Department and the nation. I am thrilled that AFRRI has been rewarded for its accomplishments."

Immediately after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Institute provided health physics expertise and responded to requests for the Institute's Medical Effects of Ionizing Radiation (MEIR) Course. The Institute's Teaching Team presented the MEIR Course to the White House medical staff and to New York firemen, policemen, and health department workers as well as to city government representatives in Manhattan, Long Island, and the Newark, New Jersey, areas. During 2002, in classroom training and meetings, the team addressed issues such as nuclear terror, biological and chemical warfare, and the medical response to radiation injuries. They briefed numerous U.S. and foreign government agencies, including military hospitals and active and reserve Navy fleet hospitals as well as civilian universities and first-responder networks.

In addition, the Institute met the thousandfold increase in requests for informational products, including 12,000 copies of the Medical Management of Radiological Casualties Handbook. Further, the Institute collaborated with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Army Medical Department Center and School to publish a pocket guide for medical service providers. The Institute continues to provide information to the Pacific, Joint Forces, Southern, Central, and Northern commands as well as to federal agencies including the Departments of State and Health and Human Services.

When anthrax-contaminated mail threatened to shut down the postal system in October 2001, according to Institute officials, AFRRI scientists, engineers, and technical and administrative staffs significantly aided various federal agencies and the Office of the President of the United States to protect and decontaminate the distribution system. In addition, the Institute supported national antiterrorism programs and military exercises and operations. For Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Kuwait, the Institute developed emergency response plans; and for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, it provided guidance on treatment of personnel with embedded depleted uranium or tungsten alloy fragments and conducted studies on the use of ionizing radiation to decontaminate human remains.

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