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WRNMMC Physician Receives Ellis Island Medal of Honor


By Kalila Fleming

WRNMMC Command Communications

A Walter Reed National Military Medical Center physician recently received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor during a ceremony on historic Ellis Island, New York last month.

The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, the sponsor of the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, presented Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Jonathan Forsberg with the medal May 13. Forsberg is director of the Department of Defense’s Osseointegration Program and an orthopedic oncologist at WRNMMC.
The Ellis Island Medals of Honor are annually presented each year on Ellis Island to a select group of individuals whose accomplishments in their field are deemed inspiring to the nation as determined by the NECO.
“The Ellis Island Medals of Honor embody the spirit of America in their celebration of patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity,” NECO officials explained in a release. “They recognize individuals who have made it their mission to share with those less fortunate their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity; all while maintaining the traditions of their ethnic heritage as they uphold the ideals and spirit of America,” they added. 
Since its founding in 1986, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor has been officially recognized by both Houses of Congress as one of our nation’s most prestigious awards. Past honorees have included six U.S. presidents, former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as well entertainer Frank Sinatra, business icon Lee Iacocca, music producer Quincy Jones, boxer and activist Muhammad Ali, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, U.S. prisoner of war survivor in World War II and Olympian Louis Zamperini and Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks, just to name a few.
Forsberg has helped to pioneer one of the first American osseointegration programs in the field. The procedure involves the direct skeletal attachment of prosthesis. His work at Walter Reed Bethesda comes at a time when the nation has been engaged in one of its longest conflicts resulting in numerous wounded service members, many treated by the Navy physician.
“The past 15 years or so has been characterized by two major conflicts that generated an influx of combat casualties… my treatment philosophy revolves around solving challenging problems, whether they are diagnostic, reconstructive, or treatment-related,” Forsberg said.
Director of the Musculoskeletal Oncology and Orthopedic Research Department and colleague, Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Kyle Potter stated, “All of our staff in Orthopedic Surgery and the larger Uniformed Services University-Walter Reed Department of Surgery could not be more proud of [Forsberg’s] accomplishments and this spectacular recognition.”
In addition to Forsberg, some of the other recipients of the 2017 Ellis Island Medal included: Dr. Buzz Aldrin, the second person to one of the first two humans to land on the Moon, and the second person to walk on it; journalist and author Fareed Zakaria; Army Brig. Gen. Suzanne P. Vares-Lum, the Mobilization Assistant to Director of Strategic Plans and Policy, U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, Hawaii; Brig. Gen. Austin E. Renforth, the Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island; Harris Pastides, the 28th president of the University of South Carolina; Russian-American classical pianist Olga Kern; and Air Force Lt. Gen. Stayce D. Harris, the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff and Director, Air Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force and also the first black woman to become an Air Force lieutenant general.
“I’m honored simply to be considered—but to be recognized among this very distinguished crowd is truly humbling,” Forsberg stated.