UNC School of Medicine faculty members and emergency medicine residents gathered at the Physicians Office Building to see Sean Siler, DO, MBA, clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at the UNC School of Medicine and Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, receive one of the most prestigious honors in military medicine honors: the Order of Military Medical Merit (O2M3).
Membership in the O2M3 recognizes individuals who have “demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character, displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence, served in the Army Medical Department, for a minimum of 10 years, with selflessness, and have made a sustained contribution to the betterment of Army Medicine.”
The award was presented by Colonel Robert Nogueras, of Fort Bragg, and Colonel David Thompson, physician assistant at Novant Health in Winston-Salem, both Deputy Command Surgeons at the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (AIRBORNE).
Thompson has known Siler for more than ten years, in both Special Operations units and civilian practice. He told the attendees that the two have led parallel careers in medicine, education, and the military, and have mentored each other during different periods of their lives and careers.
“Sean has been one of the guys you don’t see when the movies show the Special Forces teams in combat,” said Thompson, who is also an O2M3 member. “He’s been on the medical unit in the background supporting those guys. He’s very much deserving of this.”
“Sean has been one of the guys you don’t see when the movies show the Special Forces teams in combat,” said Thompson
Siler’s military career spans more than 23 years of Active and Reserve duty in the U.S. Army. The last thirteen years have been spent providing medical support to Special Operations units and commanding regular Army medical units. His four combat deployments have included time in the Republic of Georgia after September 11th, 2001, coordinating medical support for a $65 million Train and Equip mission for that country, as well as deploying twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan with Special Operations units, providing far-forward medical support in those combat zones. He most recently commanded a mission in Africa, where his unit trained surgeons, nurses and medics on handling combat casualties.
Throughout his military career, Siler has twice received promotions “below the zone,” or ahead of his year group. He earned a Bronze Star while deployed with special operations forces in Iraq, and was awarded the Surgeon General’s Physician Recognition Award, the equivalent of the Army Doctor of the Year. He credited all those who have helped him along his path, both in the military and in medicine.
“I’m a soldier, I’m a doctor, I’m a civilian, I’m a dad,” Siler told the group, which included his wife, Julie. “I’m able to be all these things because people have invested in me and my family has supported me. Thank those people around you that actually support you — they are the reasons you succeed.”
“Find something that’s beyond yourself and invest in that because that makes our entire community even better. That’s what advances emergency medicine, and advances us in the culture.”
Siler advised the group of residents in attendance to continue investing in themselves and their education now, but to be prepared to invest in something larger than themselves during their careers.
“I want you to think very hard about how you can be a part of something bigger than yourself,” he said. “It’s really easy to be selfish; it’s easy to be all about you. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself — to take care of those people that needed help in really bad places, and not a lot of people will go do that. Find something that’s beyond yourself and invest in that because that makes our entire community even better. That’s what advances emergency medicine, and advances us in the culture.”
About the Award
Membership in the Order recognizes those individuals who have clearly demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character, displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence, served in the Army Medical Department (for a minimum of 10 years) with selflessness, and have made a sustained contribution to the betterment of Army Medicine. Any Active Duty, Reserve Component, civilian or retired member of the Army Medical Department who, through dedicated application of talent, effort, and spirit, has made a significant contribution having an impact on the whole of the AMEDD, shall be eligible for induction into the Order. Active duty and Reserve Component Soldiers must have demonstrated appropriate Soldiering skills and obtained military education commensurate with their rank.