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Women's History Month event highlights leadership qualities

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Story by Lori Newman on 04/01/2019
By Lori Newman
Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Brooke Army Medical Center celebrated Women's History Month March 20 with a ceremony in the hospital's 4th floor auditorium.

"Today is dedicated for women who have made significant contributions throughout history," said Army Col. Michael Wirt, BAMC deputy commanding officer, highlighting this year's theme, Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence, which recognizes and honors women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society.

"This theme is very close to home for many of us who are military members, and particularly those who are members of the medical profession," Wirt said. "There is a rich history of women leading in both the U.S. military and in military medicine. For example, Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, who became the first woman and the first nurse to serve as the Army Surgeon General and as you all know, she was followed by our current Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Nadja West."

Wirt introduced Air Force Col. Deedra Zabokrtsky, chief of Officer Force Development Division and Director of Air Force Nursing Services at Headquarters Air Force, Office of the Surgeon General, saying she is "an exceptional example of a visionary woman."

Zabokrtsky who is responsible for executing officer force development initiatives and establishing training policy for the Air Force Medical Service, stepped in as the guest speaker when Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg was unable to attend because her plane was delayed.

"Flexibility is the key to air power, and that's exactly what we have today," she joked.

Zabokrtsky began by talking about her upbringing in Washington State and the lessons she learned rooting for the local football team.

"I'm fueled by faith and family, but I'm shaped by the little town that I grew up in," she said. "I learned a lot of important lessons there. One of the best lessons I have learned is that you try hard, you play hard, every single day because every now and then, heart beats talent."

Zabokrtsky focused her remarks on topics that apply to everyone including "thinking globally, but acting locally" and the importance of developing "soft skills."

"In order to succeed you need to think globally, but you need to act locally," she said. "That resonates with everything we are doing today.

"Soft skills are hard, because we don't always value them," Zabokrtsky said. "Those soft skills have a huge impact on our work environment."

She spoke about the importance of connecting with one another and retaining skilled people within the military health system.

"Leadership is the number one factor in whether or not an employee or staff member perceives a civil work environment versus an uncivil work environment," Zabokrtsky said. "Joy in work matters. Words matter and actions matter more."

She encouraged collaboration and involving all the members of the team.

"Those are all actions that we can take locally to have a profound impact on the future of the military health system," she concluded. "If you are getting anything from my remarks today, I hope you are getting that this is not a woman thing, this is a human thing."

BAMC Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Oates closed the ceremony by thanking everyone for their participation. He also cited examples of exceptional women leaders.

"The most fundamental aspect of leadership is presence; leaders have to be present to lead," Oates said.


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