USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- Lt. James Strafford of USS George Washington (CVN 73)was honored as the Naval Association Physician's Assistant of the Year on March 10.
After hearing the news during morning quarters, Strafford found the honor an exhilarating surprise.
"I was overwhelmed by the news," said Strafford, who first joined the military 25 years ago, spending the past four in the Navy. "I've been blessed to have good opportunities to grow. I've been surrounded by so many good leaders over the years, and this award proves the positive influences they had on me."
While Strafford found the news overwhelming, his co-workers say it has been a long time coming.
"Lt. Strafford has great concern for his patients," said Cmdr. Andrew Nelson, George Washington's (GW)senior medical officer. "He is an excellent clinician and enjoys people. He is an eager worker with a great sense of humor."
Nelson listed one of many experiences highlighting an amazing career.
"While Strafford was deployed as a member of the Navy Emergency Medical Surgical Team on the Horn of Africa, he was dually billeted as both the physician's assistant and Camp Lemonier's health care assistant. During that time, his direct leadership led to a new Medical and Dental clinic being designed and built."
Not only did Strafford spend time on the Horn of Africa, he was also stationed in Laos, England, Haiti and Sewell's Point, Norfolk, Va.
"I had a lot of fun at each duty station," he said. "Each place I've been to has given me the chance to meet people and explore different cultures, and I've enjoyed it."
Aboard GW, Strafford is responsible for the ship's Mass Casualty Staging Team and Aft Battle Dressing Station.
It was under Strafford's leadership where these two entities shined at the critical moment.
"Both stations performed flawlessly during exercises and the September flight deck mass casualty, directly saving fellow shipmates," Nelson said. "Lt. Strafford also acts as Medical Department's Public Affairs representative, making several training videos and writing several articles, among others."
"I want the crew to understand [that] Medical doesn't have a one-dimensional mission," Strafford said. "It goes 24 hours a day. We're always there, making sure the ship is ready for war. GW is the most amazing place in the world."
After traveling the world, Strafford reported to GW in August 2003. He has spent the past seven years as a physician's assistant. While he credits being surrounded by good leaders with his success, Strafford says if it wasn't for his family and faith, he wouldn't be aboard GW today.
"I had a choice. If it wasn't for my wife, I wouldn't have gone through PA (physician assistant) school," Strafford explained. "She supported me through school. She supported me during my deployments. Anything I do here is a direct reflection of my wife. Without my family and my faith, I wouldn't be on GW."
For related news, visit the USS George Washington (CVN 73) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn73.