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Saluting those who served our country and now serve UTHealth Houston

Photo of 9 U.S. military veterans who currently work at UTHealth Houston.
From Left to Right: Alisha Young, MD; Deena Alsabti; Adrian Botello; Matthew Osborn, MD; Glennis Stanciel; Lesley Osborn, MD; Nathan Jeter; Kulvinder Bajwa, MD; and Jack Joseph, DDS.

Today and every day, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) is proud to honor those who have served our country, and currently serve as faculty, staff, and students across the university. Read the stories of some of the many faces of UTHealth Houston and how their role in the military prepared them for their job today.

Alisha Young, MD, U.S. Army

Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine

McGovern Medical School

What was your role in the military, and how does it relate to your job now?

I was a E5/Sergeant in the U.S. Army. My job was COMMO – I repaired and maintained ground-based radio systems. While repairing electronics does not overlap much with my job as a pulmonary/critical care physician, I benefit every day from the mental and physical disciplines and leadership lessons instilled in me by a team of Drill Sergeants during my 12-week basic training, and by the mentors I had throughout my Army career.

Tell us about your time in the military.

My old Army unit, 321st Military Intelligence Battalion, was mobilized and deployed after 9/11. We were fortunate to have only injuries, not casualties, largely due to our Combat Support roles. After finishing medical school, I was commissioned into the Air Force Medical Reserve. My current military job is a Critical Care Air Transport Team physician, with 433rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron based out of Joint Base San Antonio.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

It means a lot to me. Part of the Airman’s Creed refers to “a Proud Heritage, a Tradition of Honor, and a Legacy of Valor” passed on to the current military service members from the brave men and women who came before us. It is a day to express my appreciation, gratitude, and admiration for my fellow service members. On a lighter note, it’s also an excuse for my old Army buddies and me to get together (that is before/after the COVID-19 pandemic) for our annual trip. 

Deena Alsabti, MPAS, PA-C, MPH, U.S. Army

Physician Assistant, Department of Emergency Medicine

McGovern Medical School

What was your role in the military and how does it relate to your job now?

I was an interpreter/translator (English-Arabic). I use Arabic in the emergency department and in my previous job in abdominal transplant when we have patients that speak Arabic.

Tell us about your time in the military.

It was full of adventure, camaraderie, and teamwork. I had the honor to meet great leaders from different countries (Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, U.S., Canada, France, and many more). I was the main interpreter in conferences at U.S. embassies in several countries, as well as in operational missions. I was part of historical events and life-changing times for others. It was an honorable time. 

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Honor, memories and pride. 

Adrian “Andy” Botello, U.S. Army

Data Management Analyst

McGovern Medical School

What was your role in the military, and how does it relate to your job now?

I was a Special Operations Army Combat Medic for the Third Infantry Division. For my first few years here with UTHealth Houston, I worked under John Holcomb, MD, researching trauma and burn research. Now I serve under Dr. Roberto Arduino’s Houston HIV/AIDS Research Team with the Department of Internal Medicine working on the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as other infectious disease research. I believe as a former clinician, I have the experience to recognize issues as I review records as a Data Management Analyst.

Tell us about your time in the military.

I served as a medic with the Infantry. We (the 3rd Infantry Division) were the first to cross the border of Iraq and Kuwait in the initial invasion. I was also awarded by the U.S. Army Historical Archives Unit as the first Army Medic into Baghdad. In my second tour, I served with the 86th Combat Support Hospital in the “Green Zone” of Baghdad. At this time of the war, this was the busiest emergency room in the world. This is where I became a trauma specialist. Later on that tour, I was a medic to the Scout Snipers and Mortars platoon in Baghdad. I would accompany these squads as they would carry out their missions. After completing my active duty tours, I came home to Houston to join the Army Reserves and trained soldiers all across the country before becoming an Army Drill Instructor. I am now retired, medically disabled.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Veterans Day means that we all give thanks to those honorable men and women who have given of themselves to protect and defend this great nation of ours. The sacrifices that military members and their families make often go unnoticed and unrecognized. Give thanks to all those who have ever donned a uniform in service of our country. It has been my greatest honor to have served. God Bless the USA.

Matthew Osborn, MD, U.S. Marine Corps

Resident, Department of Anesthesiology

McGovern Medical School

What was your role in the military, and how does it relate to your job now?

While in the military I served as a Tactical Air Defense Controller. I coordinated the ingress and egress of air traffic as well as expediting live air support to actively engaged troops on the ground within military hot zones. This ensured the safety of the pilots, passengers, and forward operating troops. This required mental visualization of a 3D airspace theater while utilizing a 2D radar pane to control aircraft. It also demanded precise communication and forethought of an ever-changing dynamic airspace. 

I am now a resident anesthesiologist where I find several day-to-day overlays between the two occupations. I utilize a series of systems and equipment checks to ensure appropriate function, all the while verbalizing clear and concise communication between all members present in the operating room to ensure safe and positive outcomes. I take advantage of multiple data points provided by a myriad of different monitors while using forethought and clinical judgment, all of which are paramount to a successful case. I believe the experiences gained from serving in the military and learning air control have translated well to the perspicacious requirements of anesthesia. 

Tell us about your time in the military.

I joined the United States Marines shortly after graduating high school. The training was extreme and physically tough while requiring immense mental dexterity to persevere. The military gave me a foundation of core values and bestowed in me trust to carry out various duties. My time was spent becoming proficient within my designated field as well as assisting my fellow Marines to be successful and achieve their highest marks. I quickly rose through the ranks and soon led Marines of my own to become their best. I served three tours overseas, twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan, volunteering to serve for two of the tours as I understood where I was needed the most. A choice made that I would never trade. 

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Veterans Day is a dedicated moment when awareness is brought to all Americans in tribute to the honor, courage, and commitment for all those who have served in the Armed Forces. This is a time to recognize the sacrifice a few have made for many; a day to show appreciation for the past, present, and future protection in preserving a culture of freedom and choice here in America; a time that shows normal people can band together and become heroes. 

I am proud to have served my country, an experience I will carry throughout my life. I share a bond with all other service members that extends beyond simply being a friend or neighbor, but one that exists as a family. I will forever be thankful for all veterans as it is a choice that does not come without risk and sacrifice. 

The day originally commemorated the armistice of World War I on the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918. It symbolized a day of remembrance for those who served and died during one of the deadliest wars in modern history.

Glennis Stanciel, U.S. Navy

Student

Cizik School of Nursing

What was your role in the military and how does it relate to you now?

During my time in the military, I was a Data Systems Technician Second Class (E5). When I graduate from Cizik School of Nursing with my first-ever degree in December, I will be moving to Del Rio, Texas, because I believe they need good nurses and very few people are willing to step into those shoes. I want to help the rural population because their health care is lacking. I chose UTHealth Houston because I wanted the best nursing education I could get and I believe this career will be one of the best decisions of my life. I believe as a veteran I should continue to stand up for my country and serve when and wherever I am needed!

Tell us about your time in the military. 

I joined the Navy in 1986 and worked on the first personal computers (PCs) and the burgeoning internet which, back then, were just bulletin boards. I worked as part of a team of technicians who installed computer networks for other Navy commands like the Naval Postgraduate School in Carmel, California. I wrote and taught computer courses for word processing, database, and spreadsheet platforms. I also taught PC repair classes to sailors so that they could maintain their systems while at sea. I received a Letter of Commendation from the Admiral of the Seventh Fleet for helping a destroyer that was on station in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm. I served six years on active duty and four years in the reserves here in Houston. The knowledge I gained in the military helped me to go on and create a very successful information technology company that I ran for 20 years. I stopped working at the company when I enrolled in nursing school because I have wanted to be in the medical field since I was 10 years old and time was running out to accomplish that goal.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Veterans Day is the day when I remember the brave men and women who died in previous wars so that I could join the Navy and become a freedom-loving American. I was born in the mid-1960s and grew up in the 1970s in northern California. I am a black woman with no college degree (yet) and I am very successful. I have been married to a sailor for 34 years and we have three adult children. I love and believe in America and will fight if I have to just like the brave men and women before me. 

Lesley Osborn, MD, U.S. Air Force

Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine

McGovern Medical School 

What was your role in the military and how does it relate to your job now?

I am a Captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. I serve as the Flight Surgeon for the 308th Pararescue Squadron at Patrick Space Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Florida. My military service fits well with my current civilian job. I serve as the medical director for a team of PJs (technical rescue specialists that are dive/jump certified and also paramedics). Training, educating, and working alongside them translates to my job as the medical director at Memorial Hermann Life Flight, as well as my clinical work at the trauma center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. I learn as much from my PJs as they learn from me.

Tell us about your time in the military.

I was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force in March 2018 and began my career with the South Carolina Air National Guard. I transferred to the Reserves in spring 2020 and just returned from deployment in August of this year.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

To me, Veterans Day is a day to remember our service members who served in combat. It’s a day to reflect on those who died honorably and a day to remind us to reach out to those who are stateside and still dealing with the physical and mental effects of war. It’s a day to thank our living veterans for the sacrifices they and their families have made and continue to make for our country.

Nathan Jeter, U.S. Navy

Multimedia Specialist, Office of Public Affairs

UTHealth Houston

What was your role in the military, and how does it relate to your job now?

When I was in the Navy my role, or rate, was Personnel Specialist and I worked with Admin and Operations at my squadron. I would work on correspondence, awards, pay, flight operations, flight scheduling, personnel records, and travel records for squadron members. This role helped shaped me into a better business professional, as well as enhance my customer service skills.

Tell me about your experience in the military.

I joined the Navy in October 2009 and after “A” school, I was stationed at NAS (Naval Air Station) Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Washington. I was in a role not many people know about called FTS or Full Time Support. This meant we would train the reservist during their drill weekend each month and we could not be deployed for long periods of time. I enjoyed my time in the military and I feel like it’s helped me a lot in life. I went in at 19 and had to grow up a lot faster than I expected. I learned a tremendous amount of personal responsibility and accountability for my actions that translates to my everyday life.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Veterans Day means a lot to me because I know the sacrifice current and past veterans have made. We all share a common bond with each other that is tough to understand or put into words. I am truly honored and humbled to be able to call myself a veteran and I thank everyone who has served before and after me. 

Kulvinder "Vinny" Bajwa, MD, U.S. Army

Associate Professor, Department of Surgery

McGovern Medical School

What was your role in the military, and how does it relate to your job now?

I started in the U.S. Navy Reserve during college and was trained as a Navy corpsman/medic attached to a U.S. Marine Corps infantry unit. I switched and was commissioned in the Texas Army National Guard in medical school, before transferring to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard during residency. I then was transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve during my practice when I returned to Houston. My job in the Army has always been either as a field surgeon or a general/trauma surgeon. The last 12 years of my career were spent as a Command Surgeon for the 75th Training Command, now the 75th Innovation Command, a position analogous to occupational health of the entire unit, interpreting health and fitness policies for the leadership. My last position before retirement was as the Brigade Commander of the 5th Brigade, 94th Training Division, training Army Medic instructors in their career advancement.

Those jobs are reversely related to my job now. What that means is, I train every day in my civilian life as a surgeon to be ever ready to serve as a physician and surgeon in the Army when I am called to duty. Just like soldiers and other Armed Services members that train every day physically, I also trained every day as a surgeon. The Army benefitted from my daily practice of surgery. The other assignments are related to leadership, policy management, and deployment in a very rank-structured environment, which I learned in the Army and apply to UTHealth Houston departmental leadership and leading projects such as the Epic MyChart deployment at the department level. I also led a team of trauma surgeons at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital from 2017 through 2019.

Tell us about your time in the military.

My time in the military was an educational time from a teenager to turning 50. I spent 33 years in service to the nation and fellow members in the military, from being a Navy medic to serving with the Marines to being a trauma surgeon in Afghanistan in a forward base serving an entire coalition of nations. I then led a training Brigade with units across the U.S. and schools in Fort Knox and Joint Base San Antonio. My time with the military was a rewarding time in service of fellow service members and their families, as well as a chance to lead, inspire, and follow well-trained people from all over the country and all walks of life.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

Veterans Day is new for me as I only hung up the uniform at the very end of 2019. This will be my second Veterans Day and all in the COVID-19 era. However, it is a day we remember all of the service members who have raised their hand to swear an oath to selflessly serve the people of this great nation in any capacity to carry out the national security strategy of this country. This capacity can be clerical to outright front-line engagement in a firefight. We can never appreciate the personal and family sacrifices that a veteran makes when they put something bigger than them first and foremost. Since the recognition of Armistice Day in 1919 and later changed to Veterans Day, so many have worn the uniform during the draft and now by choice as a powerful force representing the U.S. in so many global engagements in conflicts and non-combat roles. We need to honor them during this day and every chance we get.

Jack Joseph, DDS, U.S. Air Force

Associate Professor, Department of General Practice and Dental Public Health

UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry

What was your role in the military, and how does it relate to your job now?

The hospital rotations and treatment experience were invaluable as a dentist in the U.S. Air Force. I entered the military as a result of enrolling in the “early commissioning program,” which committed me to two years of active duty following my graduation from dental school and allowed me to complete my dental education while being exempt from the military draft. I felt it was my obligation having seen many of my friends serve during the Vietnam conflict. In retrospect it was a great decision.

Tell me about your experience in the military.

I served from 1972 to 1974 at a large Air Force hospital in Wichita Falls, Texas. At their dental clinic, I rotated through and practiced in all the dental specialties. I developed lifelong friendships with both medical and dental professionals from all over our country. I had the privilege of treating our returning Vietnam POWs. Additionally, my association with the base chaplaincy was emotionally and spiritually rewarding.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

I am grateful to those who have served, and especially those who have given their lives, to preserve and defend our country and way of life! As a child of family and friends who served and survived the tragedy of World War II, I remember their stories and will forever be grateful for their sacrifices, which preserved and made possible the America I grew up in. Additionally, for me, as a symbol of respect and admiration for all those enlisted men and women who have served in all our conflicts and sacrificed for my country, this day, Veterans Day, is sacred.

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