In a ceremony held at the David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Debra Winkle, the director of Med Tech/LVN to RN programs for Pacific Union College, was made an Honorary Commander of the 60th Medical Group’s Inpatient Operations Squadron at David Grant USAF Medical Center.
Winkle coordinates the nursing program for PUC that allows Licensed Vocational Nurses to complete a degree and become Registered Nurses, and she runs a branch of this program for medical technicians at Travis. It's the only on-base nursing program in the Air Force, and it's given many Med Techs a chance to complete a degree — despite full-time jobs, families, and deployments — which has the potential to move their careers forward, both in and out of the military.
So on April 15, when Colonel Lynne Taylor, 60th Inpatient Operations Squadron commander, presented Winkle with the squadron flag and Commander's pin, 60 IPTS personnel gave Winkle a standing ovation.
The goal of the Honorary Commander program is to nurture a link between civilian supporters and senior leadership at Travis AFB. According to the program guide, Honorary Commanders can be nominated from a variety of community affiliations to "assure an exchange of new ideas, energy and perspectives." Winkle explains that she and Col. Taylor now invite each other to functions at PUC and DGMC "to expose each other to the missions of our respective places," including an invitation for Winkle to attend a “boot camp” held at Travis AFB and one for Taylor to speak at PUC's nurses pinning ceremony this year, held on June 12 during Commencement Weekend.
Col. Taylor also asked Winkle to address her staff after she was presented with the flag and pin. Because 60 IPTS is composed of medical personnel from Airmen all the way up to high-ranking officers at DGMC, not all were familiar with PUC’s Med Tech to RN program. Winkle provided an overview and spoke briefly about current events and where nursing is right now in the state of California.
Though Winkle keeps plenty busy helping Med Techs and LVNs earn their RNs, she knew that taking on this Honorary Commander role would be positive for both PUC, DGMC and Travis. "I think it's a win-win," she said.