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Naval Special Warfare Medical Officer Recognized as Navy Physician Assistant of the Year

15 February 2022

From Petty Officer 1st Class Alex Smedegard, Naval Special Warfare Group One

CORONADO, Calif. - Lt. Cmdr. Joe Kaleiohi was selected as the 2021 Navy Medicine’s Physician Assistant of the Year for his contributions as the deputy senior medical officer at Naval Special Warfare Group (NSWG) 1.

“In my 36 years of being in the military, 20 of those as an enlisted SEAL medic, I have been privileged to be surrounded by great leaders and phenomenal Sailors,” said Kaleiohi. “While at NSWG-1 the team has taken ownership, worked hard and achieved amazing results.”

In 2007, Kaleiohi, who was serving as a chief special warfare operator deployed in western Iraq, seized a remarkable opportunity. He was selected to become a physician assistant and officer in the Navy.

“I loved being a SEAL medic and I love what I do now,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kaleiohi. “My choice to become a physician assistant came from wanting to continue my growth in the medical field and being a service to others, as well as increasing my knowledge and being able to use that and my experience to help bolster the team and those around me.”

Over the past year, Kaleiohi supervised the implementation of the medical operational, training and readiness directorate at NSWG-1 which culminated training and qualifications for 213 SEAL medics, physician assistants, independent duty corpsman and field medical technicians.

“Our full spectrum of medical staff provided clinical medicine functions across all NSWG-1 clamancy and its approximately 2,000 warfighters,” said Kaleiohi.

As a certified emergency medicine physician assistant, Kaleiohi also serves as a surgical resuscitation team leader in the Joint Medical Augmentation Unit within Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

“Lt. Cmdr. Kaleiohi’s vast experience and astute understanding of the NSW community, medical programs, and policies have greatly increased the survivability of our SEAL teams and supporting commands,” said Capt. David Abernathy, commodore of NSWG-1. “He is never satisfied with the status quo and approaches all problems with an innovative mindset. We are lucky to have him on our team.”

Kaleiohi’s selection as 2021 Navy Medicine’s Physician Assistant of the Year was made public Dec. 24, 2021, via a video released from by Rear Adm. Timothy Weber, director of the Medical Service Corps (MSC).

“This award is a testament to Kaleiohi’s outstanding service to Navy Medicine and Naval Special Warfare through his unique skill set, impressive leadership, and mentoring ability,” said Weber.

Each year, the director of the MSC recognizes officers whose leadership and professional knowledge have made significant contributions toward enhancing warfighter performance, operational capabilities and Navy Medicine.

“It is an honor to receive this award,” said Kaleiohi. “As a young physician assistant I never would have imagined the opportunities I have had this past year. It is an absolute privilege to be here.”

 

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