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Committed to Serve: CHAMPion veteran gives back to the military

Dr. Patrick Hyde, Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) strategy and engagement director at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, served 28 years in the U.S. Navy and retired as Command Master Chief. He is a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient for his actions during a deployment to Iraq in July 2005. (Photo by Staff. Sgt. Joseph A. Pagán Jr.)
By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph A. Pagán Jr.

Nearly 100 years ago, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect. This date, November 11, 1918, is regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars,” which gave reason, a year later, for President Woodrow Wilson to proclaim this date, Armistice Day.

Through several changes over the course of a century the U.S. now recognizes this date as Veterans Day. A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism and sacrifice for our nation and common good.

Each year we honor the millions of veterans who are among us all. They may be recognized by their proudly-worn campaign hat or their titanium prosthetics; there are some who outwardly show no signs of serving, yet inside there are remnants of war.

Across this university, hundreds of veterans proudly continue to serve and give back to the military. While the hat they wear has changed, their commitment to serving the United States has not.

It’s unnoticeable through his long-sleeved, finely-pressed dress shirt, but Dr. Patrick Hyde’s left arm is quite different from his right.

In July of 2005, Hyde was deployed to Iraq where his HUMVEE was hit by a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, injuring himself and several others in the vehicle. Unbeknownst to him, his arm was hit with shrapnel.

Through countless surgeries, relentless medical teams, and the help of titanium rods, Hyde’s arm was saved and is functional, with few limitations. While it’s important to know he’s a wounded warrior and a retired U.S. Navy Command Master Chief, it’s more important to know that he’s a veteran who’s using his story and experiences to give back to the military, and the university that means so much to him.

“I’m the Strategy and Engagement Director for the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP),” Hyde said. “I have the opportunity to deliver resources through policy, education and training to help a service member to become fully ready and capable to serve in any mission.”

In this position, he’s able to do something that he longed for not only as a child, but throughout his military career, and now his civilian life.

“Serving and being a servant,” Hyde replied when asked what his purpose was.

“Throughout my life I’ve always thought about it,” he added. “Serving in uniform has given me that, not just for myself but the population, my family, and nation and what it stands for. Having this opportunity to continue as a retired enlisted [member] also creates another opportunity to serve those warriors and service members in a way they can benefit and have a great quality of life.”

CHAMP’s main goal is to strive to create and foster a total force fitness through the domains: physical, psychological, spiritual, emotional, financial, environmental, family, mind and body, and relationships, Hyde continued.

“I’ve always said, ‘Do you want to have a house built on rock or a house built on sand? You can tell which one will last’,” Hyde said jokingly. “CHAMP also focuses to help build a foundation for a service member to not look at something like a barrier but to look at something as a level to step higher.”

As a wounded warrior and veteran, Hyde uses his experiences to assist those who face barriers just as he did.

“My job on the battlefield was to take care of the sick and injured,” Hyde said. “After my injury and process, I knew I wanted to go back to that same work. I wanted to give others the same treatment I received. There were countless individuals who came from or are here at the university who helped me overcome. ”

He continues to take care of people through his work and also through his words.

“There are more positives in our life than there are negatives. Don’t think there is an end, there’s always a future. No one knows what’s ahead, but always apply yourself as if there’s a great surprise around the corner.”

At the time of his injury, and shortly thereafter, Hyde could have given up. He could have retired early and left the service he loves. However, he didn’t. He went on to earn a doctorate, two master’s degrees, and a bachelor’s, all of which help him to find ways to help continue to serve.

“I will always serve [the military],” Hyde said. “The sense of camaraderie, brotherhood and sisterhood – I’m always there for you and you’re always there for me. It’s about something bigger than me. Allowing someone to have a quality of life, well-being, and prosperity through what I have to offer from my experiences – it’s a phenomenon!”