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Medical Museum Volunteers Appreciated at Recent Ceremonies

By Lauren Bigge
NMHM Public Affairs Coordinator

National Museum of Health and Medicine volunteers Sara Handwerker, David Handwerker, Gabriella Cantoni, and James Tent were honored with the bronze President's Volunteer Service Award during the recognition ceremony, "Army Volunteers – Service for Life," on April 27 at Fort Detrick, Md. for giving 100 to 249 hours of special service commitment to Veterans and Military Families in 2016. Mrs. Cantoni also received a 10-year anniversary pin and an award for her 110 hours of service in 2016, from Garrison commander Col. Robert A. O'Brien. Volunteers Regina Hunt and Andrea Rander, along with NMHM's public programs manager Andrea Schierkolk and volunteer coordinator Gwen Nelmes, cheered them on.

Volunteers Rachel Bailey, Frank Bruno, Delores Christie, Melinda Eaton, Kathleen O'Brien and Lisa Weed later received the bronze President's Volunteer Service Award from Nelmes. Jonathan Coventry and Ian Frazier received the silver President's Volunteer Service Award for each giving 388 hours of special service commitment in 2016. Bronze, silver and gold awards for 2016 included a "Thank You" letter signed by President Barack Obama.

Volunteers Miranda Armour-Chelu, Dr. Frank Bruno, Gabriella Cantoni, Delores Christie, Roseann Flyte, Howard Phifer and Jon Willen toured the National Museum of the United States Marine Corps in Triangle, Va., on May 31, and received certificates of appreciation and awards as a "Thank you" from NMHM for their service in 2016. Mrs. Christie was presented with a 10-year anniversary pin while Dr. Bruno was presented with a 5-year anniversary pin; both received top hours awards. Ms. Nelmes also presented Dr. Bruno with the Organizational Volunteer of the Year award for his work as a docent guide and in the museum's Otis Historical Archives.

Under the auspices of the Army Volunteer Corps, NMHM volunteers have a long history of providing valuable services to the museum. They serve as docents, offering a variety of tour experiences for visitors, as well as subject-matter experts, sharing their knowledge about objects in the collection under the direction of the museum staff.

In 2016, NMHM docents led 134 guided tours for more than 3,800 visitors. They also served NMHM visitors during a variety of public programs, such as the annual Brain Awareness Week, Teddy Bear Clinic, Anatomy of Sports and Scout Day.

"The museum volunteers are on the frontline, greeting the public with smiling faces, offering expert knowledge about the museum's collections and mission. The passion they have for sharing the value of military medicine to our nation is evident in all that they say and do. The museum is very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers on staff, sharing the stories of innovation and challenges in military medicine," Mrs. Schierkolk said.

"All of the volunteers are very passionate about the museum," Ms. Nelmes said. "They have a lot of institutional knowledge. They stay for years and years because they love it so much. The 5-year [anniversary] is a great milestone because at that point they are mentors to newer volunteers and docents. The work like Frank Bruno is doing with the collections staff demonstrates what volunteers can do and what their hours of service can provide."

Archivist Laura Cutter said Dr. Bruno has contributed invaluable expertise to the Otis Historical Archives for several hours on a weekly basis over the past three years. He reviewed records of 191 cases of high-velocity missile trauma surgery from the Vietnam War, expanding the captions for the photographs to more thoroughly explain the techniques demonstrated in the surgery. Dr. Bruno has also provided descriptions for photographs in other Vietnam-era collections, many of which were donated without captions, making them very difficult to share with researchers looking for specific images, such as a particular type of medical evacuation or surgery. His expertise stems from his career as a doctor, specifically the years he spent in service as a military surgeon during the Vietnam War. "We're so lucky to have him," Cutter said. "Expanding the information makes the collections so much more valuable to us and to our researchers, both inside and outside the DoD."

NMHM is celebrating several volunteer anniversaries: Carolyn Whittenburg, 20 years; Gabriella Cantoni, Delores Christie, and Bernardine Evans, 10 years; Frank Bruno and Lisa Weed, five years.

NMHM regularly recruits volunteers to serve as docents or volunteers to support NMHM in a variety of ways. Individuals who are interested in military medicine, history, or have a general love for museums are encouraged to consider joining the museum's volunteer corps. Incentives for volunteerism include unique opportunities to tour museums and laboratories, and "Lunch 'n Learn" professional development events. Candidates must be at least 21 years of age and have a flexible weekday schedule. Volunteer docent training will be held Thursdays in September. For more information and to request an application, call 301-319-3312.

 
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Caption: National Museum of Health and Medicine volunteer docent David Handwerker received a bronze President's Volunteer Service Award and a Certificate of Appreciation from Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Robert A. O'Brien (left) and Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Command Sergeant Major Franklin Jordan during the recognition ceremony "Army Volunteers – Service for Life" on April 27, 2017 at Fort Detrick, Md. for giving 100 to 249 hours of special service commitment to Veterans and Military Families in 2016.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick )
Caption: National Museum of Health and Medicine volunteer docent Gabriella Cantoni received a bronze President's Volunteer Service Award, a 10-year anniversary pin and a Certificate of Appreciation from Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Robert A. O'Brien (left) and Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Command Sergeant Major Franklin Jordan during the recognition ceremony "Army Volunteers – Service for Life" on April 27, 2017 at Fort Detrick, Md. for giving 100 to 249 hours of special service commitment to Veterans and Military Families in 2016.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick )
Caption: National Museum of Health and Medicine volunteer docent Regina Hunt received a Certificate of Appreciation from Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Robert A. O'Brien (left) and Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Command Sergeant Major Franklin Jordan during the recognition ceremony "Army Volunteers – Service for Life" on April 27, 2017 at Fort Detrick, Md.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick)
Caption: National Museum of Health and Medicine volunteer docent Andrea Rander received a Certificate of Appreciation from Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Robert A. O'Brien (left) and Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Command Sergeant Major Franklin Jordan during the recognition ceremony "Army Volunteers – Service for Life" on April 27, 2017 at Fort Detrick, Md.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick )
Caption: National Museum of Health and Medicine volunteer docent Sara Handwerker received a bronze President's Volunteer Service Award and a Certificate of Appreciation from Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Robert A. O'Brien (left) and Fort Detrick U.S. Army Garrison Command Sergeant Major Franklin Jordan during the recognition ceremony "Army Volunteers – Service for Life" on April 27, 2017 at Fort Detrick, Md.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick)
Caption: National Museum of Health and Medicine docents (from left) James Tent, David and Sara Handwerker, Andrea Rander, Gabriella Cantoni, Regina Hunt and Education Coordinator Gwen Nelmes attended the "Army Volunteers – Service for Life" recognition ceremony at Ft. Detrick, Md. on April 27, 2017.

(National Museum of Health and Medicine photo by Andrea Schierkolk/Released)
Caption: National Museum of Health and Medicine docents (from left) Jon Willen, Frank Bruno, Roseann Flyte, Miranda Armour-Chelu, Howard Phifer, Gabriella Cantoni, and Delores Christie toured the National Museum of the United States Marine Corps in Triangle, Va. on May 31, 2017.

(National Museum of Health and Medicine photo by Gwen Nelmes/Released)