James Geiling, MD, MPH’14, a professor of medicine at Geisel School of Medicine, has received the 2016 James Wright Award for Distinguished Service. Geiling, a US Army Colonel (ret.), is chief of Medical Service and director of the Intensive Care Unit at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VA) in White River Junction, VT. An accomplished physician and educator, Geiling is a recognized national leader in the areas of emergency preparedness, disaster medicine, and medical countermeasures for terrorist events.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive this award,” Geiling says. “As I take my obligation seriously to serving Veterans at the VA and those I have met along the way throughout the Dartmouth community, I don’t see my efforts as extraordinary as receiving this award might imply. The reality is all of us who serve, and have served in uniform get it—we take care of our own “band of brothers” and their families.”
Geiling came to Dartmouth and the VA Medical Center in 2003 after a 25-year career in the Medical Corps of the US Army. In 2010 he led a Dartmouth-Partners in Health disaster-response team to Port Au Prince, Haiti following the massive earthquake that struck the impoverished Caribbean nation. He is medical advisor to the student-led Dartmouth Ski Patrol, and in 2013 he received the National Ski Patrol Patroller’s Cross, which is awarded to a patroller injured in the line of duty—Geiling injured his knee while transporting and caring for a patient on rough terrain.
He has also served as co-director of Dartmouth’s New England Center for Emergency Preparedness and has written and spoken extensively about the field of disaster medicine, with recent work focusing on mass critical care in resource poor settings. Geiling has also held leadership positions for disaster-related activities for both the Society of Critical Care Medicine and American College of Chest Physicians.
While in the military, he commanded the 200-person medical clinic in the Pentagon where his training in the field of disaster medicine was put into practice on September 11, 2001 when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the Pentagon—Geiling’s team coordinated first-responders to both that attack and the subsequent anthrax attack. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Given each year by the Dartmouth Uniformed Service Alumni (DUSA), the James Wright Award for Distinguished Service is the highest honor awarded by DUSA, and bestowed upon an individual in the Dartmouth community who over the course of their lifetime has exemplified the ideals of service, college, and country. The award is named for President James Wright, Dartmouth’s 16th president, a tireless advocate for veterans.
“President Wright himself exemplifies this as a Marine who years after his service invigorated a process to serve veterans through education,” Geiling says. “This dedication has resulted in the attraction of many veterans to Dartmouth, enriching the lives of other students, staff, faculty, and the Upper Valley. Receiving an award in his name validates that ideal of service and I am most grateful.”
Recipients are nominated by their peers, selected by committee, and honored at DUSA’s annual Veterans Day banquet, to which all members of the Dartmouth Community are invited.
Geiling will be officially honored during Dartmouth’s Fifth Annual Veterans Day Banquet, Friday evening, November 11, 2016, in the Hanover Inn Ballroom. The banquet is co-sponsored by the Dartmouth Undergraduate Veterans Association, and Dartmouth Uniformed Service Alumni.