Therapist of the Year

9/17/2013

Captain Rebecca (Meloy) Hawkins (BS ’06; MS ’07, Occupational Therapy) was honored as the American Business Clubs (AMBUCS) National Therapist of the Year at its annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Nominated by the Department of Occupational Therapy and the Kalamazoo Chapter of AMBUCS, Hawkins was honored for her outstanding clinical work as an occupational therapy officer in the Army Medical Specialist Corps, treating soldiers serving in Afghanistan as well as the Afghan population.

She was selected for the honor from among a number of board-certified occupational, speech and physical therapists who were nominated nationwide.


Hawkins was accepted into the competitive Army Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Education Program at Brooke Army Medical Center in 2006. After completing that rigorous nine-month program, graduating, and successfully completing board certification, she was promoted to first lieutenant.

Through assignments as Assistant Chief of the OT Section at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital and Chief of the OT Section at Evans Army Community Hospital, she acquired expertise in orthopaedic trauma assessment and treatment protocols. Her demonstrated leadership led to her being selected to establish the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) Recovery Center at the Forward Operating Base in Lagman, in Afghanistan. 

With her team, Hawkins saved and improved lives, while contributing to important research on the specialized treatment of traumatic head injury research carried out by The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Information gathered and used resulted in over 95 percent of soldiers returning to duty.

Hawkins continues to serve on active duty as Staff Occupational Therapy Officer, Occupational Therapy Section at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to being named AMBUCS Therapist of the Year, she was inducted into the WMU College of Health and Human Services Occupational Therapy Outstanding Alumni Academy in 2011 and was recently named as Distinguished Army Occupational Therapist by the Chief of the Occupational Therapy Section, Office of the Surgeon General, Army Medical Department.

AMBUCS, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities, has provided $167,000 in scholarships this year, with $10,500 of that amount going to Western students. The organization also provides 
AmTryke® therapeutic tricycles to individuals unable to operate a traditional bike, and its members provide a broad range of service in their communities. 

Hawkins is pictured at right in Afghanistan. 

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