Annual Major Jonathan Letterman Award


For the past eight years, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine has proudly recognized individuals and organizations that carry on the legacy of Major Jonathan Letterman’s innovation and service to wounded warriors by presenting them with the Letterman Award.


The Letterman Award Honorees 

The Letterman Award

The Jonathan Letterman Award was established to celebrate Major Jonathan Letterman’s work as Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac. On July 4, 1862, he assumed leadership of the Medical Department under General George McClellan and quickly realized that the department needed a complete overhaul. During the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, Letterman fine-tuned what is now known as the Letterman Plan. This plan not only saved the lives of countless Civil War soldiers; his plan continues to save lives on today’s battlefields, Afghanistan, and wherever emergency medical help is needed.

Letterman’s contribution to Military Medicine was the infrastructure he created. The Letterman Plan led to battlefield aid stations and triage, a more systemic use of surgeons and supplies, and allowed the Medical Department of the Army of the Potomac to work more effectively and for the first time – as a team. Letterman, known as the “Father of Battlefield Medicine,” had the ability to evaluate and update medical care of the time. His innovations and his focus on the mission to protect and sustain the Army of the Potomac carries on into today’s world of emergency care.

In honor of his visionary work, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine established the annual Major Jonathan Letterman Medical Excellence Award to recognize an individual or entity that has made an outstanding contribution to improving medical processes and patient outcomes.

 Living Letterman: Past Award Winners


8th Annual Major Jonathan Letterman Award Winners

The 8th Annual Major Jonathan Letterman Award for Medical Excellence took place on October 8, 2015, where the National Museum of Civil War Medicine was thrilled to honor Colonel Laura Ruse Brosch and Joint Trauma System. 

Colonel Laura Ruse Brosch, PhD RN, US Army Retired: 2015 Individual Recipient 

Laura Brosch and Betsy Estilow

 Distinguished by her tireless work for the rights and well-being of patients, Colonel Laura Brosch is both a great leader and a great adviser in the field of military medicine. Colonel Laura Brosch currently serves as Director of the Office of Research Protections (ORP) and Director of ORP Human Research Protection Office Headquarters at the US Army Medical Research and Material Command on Fort Detrick. Since beginning her career as a civilian nurse over 40 years ago, Colonel Brosch has worked to ensure high-quality care for recipients of military medicine.

Colonel Brosch established the Department of Defense guidelines for ethical research on humans who are not able to provide informed consent. In doing so, Brosch navigated both the ongoing debate on medical ethics and changing federal guidelines. She created a research process that did not sacrifice ethics for results, nor vice versa. Brosch’s guidelines have made it possible for innovative research on traumatic brain injury, en-route care, and hemorrhage control to be conducted. Brosch continues to enable ethical and effective research as Director of the Office of Research Protections, where she has been instrumental in initiating new research programs including trauma related research studies incorporating civilian trauma centers. Brosch has also been a key advisor to medical researchers, participating in weekly, if not daily, calls to researchers in Afghanistan and Iraq for seen consecutive years, providing sage guidance.

As Director of the Office of Research Protections, Colonel Brosch established an in-theater Joint Combat Command Casualty Research Team. Brosch understands the importance and challenges of in-theater research. While working as the Nursing Research Consultant to the US Army Surgeon General from 2000-2004, Colonel Brosch led the formation of the first in-theater research team since the Vietnam War.

The impact of Colonel Brosch’s work is far-reaching. Experts estimate that her influence has touched half of all clinical research conducted during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her work has contributed to the lowest case fatality rate in the history of warfare. Brosch is widely recognized as a national expert of emergency research. She is the Department of Defense’s most valuable research when it comes to complex regulatory, human protection, and ethical issues. She has been awarded the Army Order of Military Medical Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit Medals in recognition of her service and her contributions to the medical field.


 Individual Nominees:

  • Colonel Bryan L. Smith, MD, USAMMD
  • Colonel Charles Gray Hurst, MD, US Army, Medical Corps, Retired
  • Colonel Kirby R. Gross, MD, MS US Army
  • John F. Glenn, PhD
  • Jason M. Wilken, MPT, PhD

Joint Trauma System: 2015 Organizational Recipient

The organizational honorees and president of the board Betsy Estilow

  The Joint Trauma Systems (JTS) emerged as a solution to the inefficiencies in the treatment and transport of casualties highlighted by the recent wars in the Middle East. In 2004, the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs directed all branches of the service to work together to establish a single trauma registry. Thus, the Joint Trauma System was developed. The mission of the Joint Trauma Systems is to improve trauma care delivery and patient outcomes across the continuum of care, driven by the collection and analysis of data in the Department of Defense Trauma Registry (DoDTR).

The Department of Defense Trauma Registry (DoDTR) is a robust, real-time, web-accessible system organizing injury data from the battlefield through each transfer of care. This feat of data collection and analysis allows for greater understanding of any given injury and, in turn, improved care for patients. A physician accessing the DoDTR will be familiarized with every detail of a patient’s injury within minutes. What Major Jonathan Letterman started by mandating record-keeping at military hospitals during the Civil War has continued today as an incredible online database allowing medical care providers to instantly access a wide spectrum of medical knowledge.

Directed by the trends that appear in the DoDTR, JTS also develops innovative products to treat the most common and dangerous forms of battlefield injury: blood loss. Hemorrhage accounts for approximately 90% of all potentially survivable pre-hospital battlefield deaths, therefore many of JTS’ product development aims to decrease the loss of blood on the battlefield. These innovations include: 

  • Junctional Tourniquets: Designed to staunch bleeding at regions of the body where traditional tourniquets could not work, these products include the Combat Ready Clamp, the Junctional Emergency Treatment Tool, and the SAM Junctional Tourniquets
  • Hemostatic Dressing: Used to control bleeding while tourniquets are being prepared or when evacuation is expected to take longer than two hours, these products include QuickClot Combat Gauze, Celox Gauze, and ChitoGauze. These dressings are now used in civilian hospitals. 
  • Tranexamic Acid: Used to treat internal bleeding by preventing clot break-down.

JTS also offers a variety of educational opportunities for medical care providers, including conferences, research initiatives, and clinical guidelines. These educational opportunities are often open to both military and civilian medical personnel, improving the quality of trauma care.

Justin Constantine: Keynote Speaker

John Letterman Dinner-Civil War MuseumWhile on a routine combat patrol, Justin was shot in the head by a sniper. Although the original prognosis was that he had been killed in action, Justin survived. Through teamwork and a positive mental attitude, he has had quite a successful recovery. Justin now speaks to audiences about personal leadership, the critical role of teamwork in facing life’s challenges, and the upside of change.








Read the Program



7th Annual Major Jonathan Letterman Award Winners

The 7th Annual Major Jonathan Letterman Award for Medical Excellence took place on October 23, 2014 at the Bethesda North Marriott. COL Peter J. Weina was awarded the individual Letterman Award after being nominated for three years in a row. The United States Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) was named the organizational Letterman Award.

In keeping with the innovative style of Maj Jonathan Letterman, all of this year’s nominees work to advance medical care and conditions for our fighting troops, wounded warriors and civilian population. Few outside the military know of the existence of these nominees whose work is advancing medicine in ways previously only imagined in Science Fiction.

2014 Individual Recipient

Weina-2014-recipientPeter J. Weina, PhD, MD, FACP, FIDSA

COL Weina is the Chief of the Department of Research Programs overseeing the Nation’s lead Department of Defense teaching hospital research program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He is responsible for all graduate medical education research and the oversight of more than 1200 active clinical human use protocols at any given time across a variety of medical specialties. He also maintains the oversight for the scientific, administrative, and ethical review of all the active research at Walter Reed.  He is the Scientific Lead for the Intravenous Artensunate Integrated Integrated Product Team and Director of the Leishmania Diagnostics Laboratory.

Malaria has been a disease that remains endemic in the very regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East where our fighting troops have been deployed, in our effort to prevent the spread of terrorist organizations that have been found in this very region of the world. COL Weina was first introduced to this parasite when seeing it as a private in 1977 after reviewing a blood smear of a returning soldier with a fever. He was the lead behind the availability and licensure of Intravenous Artesunate in a manufacturing formulation from 2002 to 2009. This effort resulted in the life-saving drug being made available throughout the U.S. and Canada for the treatment of severe malaria, even before full licensure by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Eventually this drug will replace even quinine worldwide and today IV Artesunate has saved the lives of countless people around the world. This is the result of over 40 years of hard work and devotion, involving generations of malaria researchers and dedicated people from all over the world working together to improve the overall health of humanity.

In the case of leishmania, it is one of the most neglected tropical diseases that can take many forms, from simply cosmetic to fatal. The most common is the cutaneous form which usually causes disfiguring sores that affect the ability of our service members to complete their missions, and result in a permanent scar reminding them of their brush with the disease. For people in other parts of the world, this disfigurement can lead to banishment from their society and a drastic change of lifestyle. The systematic diagnosis, treatment, and management of this disease has been a major focus of COL Weina’s life work and he is currently assisting in the International Guidelines for Leishmaniasis.

COL Weina has been a Commander in a combat theatre of operations, Deputy Commander at Walter Reed Institute of Research, a Department Chief in the Division of Experimental Therapeutics, the Director of Virus Diseases Division, Director of Tropical Medicine Course,Director of Complex Wound and Limb Salvage Center and Director of the Combat Wound Initiative.

COL Weina’s efforts in the field of malaria prevention and treatment were recognized by the Center of Disease Control’s “Silo-Busters Collaborative Award of Excellence” in 2008. Other notable awards include a Meritorious Service Medal, the Expert Field Medical Badge, the Order of Military Medical Merit, the Bronze Star for service in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the Soldier’s Medal for Heroism. These attest to his outstanding devotion to duty, love of both country and fellow soldiers, and to humanity as a whole.

Individual Nominees:

2014 Organizational Recipient


USAISR-logoThe U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research is one of six research laboratories within the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command of the U.S. Army Medicine Command. The Institute is the Army’s lead research laboratory for improving the care of combat casualties. The mission of the Institute is to “Optimize Combat Casualty Care”.  The USAISR does this through three unique missions:

  1. to provide requirements driven innovations in combat casualty care to advance medical care for injured service members
  2. as the only burn center in the DoD provide state of the art burn, trauma and critical care to injured war fighters and DoD beneficiaries around the world
  3. through the Joint Trauma System provide a performance improvement system dedicated to ensuring that medical care is organized according to the needs of the patient.

The three primary missions of the US Army Institute of Surgical Research work synergistically to improve care for combat wounded.  The Joint Trauma System evaluates the current delivery of care in the deployed combat environment ensuring opportunities to improve care are recognized and acted upon.  The information generated by the Joint Trauma System provides a picture of relevant battlefield medical problems.  These problems in turn generate data driven questions.  The questions feed into requirements driven combat casualty care research, developing products to improve care across the entire spectrum from self- and buddy-aid through definitive care.  Finally, innovations in combat casualty care research are returned to the battlefield.  These innovations return either through the Joint Trauma System or through the DoD Burn Center.  This approach enables the USAISR to; keep a finger on the pulse of current combat medical problems; develop solutions to these through research; and return solutions to benefit the warfighter. 

The USAISR has a long history of burn care and burn research from WWII to the present day.  Recently the Institute has led innovations in combat casualty care in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Among the many areas the Institute has contributed are; hemostatic dressings; tourniquets; damage control resuscitation; 1:1 blood product use; extracorporeal organ support; pre-hospital lifesaving interventions; decision support technology to ensure expert medical decisions; and burn resuscitation and burn prevention.  The USAISR Burn Center provides interdisciplinary care by a team of approximately 300 medical professionals.  Since 2002, the Burn Center has provided care for more than 970 US Military burn casualties and more than 5400 civilian burn victims. Operation Mend is a military/civilian partnership with UCLA to optimize reconstruction for burn patients.  The Burn Center collaborated to improve the Army Combat Shirt, providing enhanced thermal protection to provide optimal level protection against fire and flame related explosions.  Within one year, the number and frequency of thermally injured service members dropped by 50%.  That reduction has continued with more than a 67% reduction in theater today compared to 2007 when the uniform was not used.

The USAISR Research Division concerns itself with the entire spectrum from self-aid to definitive care delivered in theater, during evacuation and in medical centers in the United States.   Their awards, innovations and impact are far too numerous to list here.

The Institute has grown from a 12 person staff in 1943 to more than 700 military and civilian personnel focused on “Optimizing Combat Casualty Care”.

Organizational Nominees:

2014 Keynote Speaker

Keynoting the evening was RADM Raquel C. Bono. RADM Bono currently serves as Director, National Capital Region Medical Directorate of the Defense Health Agency, and as the 11th Chief, Navy Medical Corps.


 6th Annual Major Jonathan Letterman Award Winners

 Civil War Museum, Clara Barton Museum, Civil War Beer, Jonathan Letterman2013 Individual Recipient

Dr. Kenneth Kizer MD, MPH in recognition of a life’s work in medicine and organizational transformation. Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis Health System.

Dr. Kenneth W. Kizer is an internationally recognized health care thought leader, change agent, and quality improvement advocate. A distinguished professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine and Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, and founding director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement, he currently leads a number of initiatives that are improving health and health care in California and the nation.

An orphan of a World War II veteran, Dr. Kizer overcame a severely disadvantaged childhood to become a highly accomplished physician and health care leader, achieving the extremely rare distinction of being elected to both the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration. A former Naval officer and diving medicine expert, Dr. Kizer has been particularly passionate about improving health care for veterans and military personnel. His transformation of the Veterans Healthcare System in the 1990s is widely viewed as the largest and most successful health care turnaround in U.S. history.

2013 Organizational Recipient

Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC)

Civil War Museum, Clara Barton Museum, Civil War Beer, Jonathan LettermanThe U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s, Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) is an organization which for the past seventeen years brought to fruition medical technology capabilities which have transformed the delivery of health care.

 TATRC has a rich history in developing, integrating, and inserting technology solutions which support and enhance patient care for our operational forces. TATRC serves as the champion, the architect, and the driving force for telehealth programs across the Army. These initiatives have led to improved access to care and have enhanced the scope of medical services for all service members.

 Through an extensive network of partners, TATRC is focused at both ends of the research spectrum, exploring models of high risk and innovative research, and putting research findings into the hands of warfighters while looking toward wider civilian utility.

 This was the second consecutive year this organization was nominated.  

2013 Letterman Awards Program Booklet in PDF

Civil War Museum, Clara Barton Museum, Civil War Beer, Jonathan Letterman2013 Keynote Speaker

The Honorable Ben Jones:  

actor, author, former congressman, political pundit, southerner


5th Annual Major Jonathan Letterman Medical Excellence Award

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine congratulates the winners of the 5th Annual Major Jonathan Letterman Medical Excellence Award. COL Craig D. Shriver won the individual award and COL Dallas Hack accepted the organizational award on behalf of The Department of Defense Combat Casualty Care Research Program.

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, located in Frederick, Maryland, established the Major Jonathan Letterman Medical Excellence Award to recognize an organization and an individual that contributes to the advancement of medical processes and improved patient outcomes and quality of life. This year’s event was held at Bethesda North Marriott on October 24, 2012. The keynote speaker was best-selling New York Times author Lee Woodruff. Mrs. Woodruff shared her personal story about the treatment and recovery of her husband ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff from a head wound he suffered while embedded with troops in Iraq. It was a rare opportunity for leaders in military medicine to hear how their hard work and advancements affect families and survivors. This year’s winners are detailed below.

Civil War Museum, Antietam battlefield

COL Dallas Hack accepts the organizational award on behalf of The Department of Defense Combat Casualty Care Research Program

The Combat Casualty Care Research Program was formed to reduce the mortality and morbidity resulting from injuries on the battlefield, with the following goals: 1. To reduce the mortality rate of American troops by 16 percent 2. To reduce the morbidity of combat injuries 3. To reduce the medical footprint on the battlefield.

The need for advancements in battlefield treatment became apparent to the military with the numbers of casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As combat operations accelerated, it was found that medi­cal treatment had not advanced significantly since previous wars and gaps in medical treatment were discovered in large numbers as medical personnel gained in experience and compiled statistics of battlefield situations. The Joint Theater Trauma Registry was formed to gain a clearer picture of the gaps in medical research and the frequency of their occurrence. As of this date, the CCCRP has approximately 1,000 combat casualty care research projects from basic research through clinical trials.

Colonel Craig D. Shriver serves as the Interim Director, Cancer Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center/Joint Task Force (WRNMMC/JTF); Chief, General Surgery Service, WRNMMC/JTF; Program Director, NCC General Surgery; Professor of Surgery, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU); and Director and Principal Investigator, Clinical Breast Care Project, WRNMMC/JTF.

Civil War Museum, Antietam battlefield

COL Craig D. Shriver won the individual award

Known for his wartime vision and practices, COL Shriver devised an innovative method of closing severe abdominal wounds that even­tually enabled more than 85% of patients to leave the hospital with closed abdomens. Many of these patients returned to duty and deployed again. The technique is applicable to all patients with open abdo­mens and translates to civilian practice as well. In an unprecedented surgery, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the University of Miami collaborated and COL Shriver performed the first pancreas islet cell transplant.

COL Shriver also developed a system of support for returning wounded warriors. His overarching goal was to tap the lead­ership and wisdom of trauma surgeons to create a unique, modern platform for the comprehensive care of injured patients. His hybrid care-giving model employs staff surgeons, midlevel care providers, and residents who provide optimal treatment to soldiers and their families and bolster knowledge of the resident education community. The endeavor is a model for modern wartime stateside care.

The Letterman Award was established to celebrate Major Letterman’s visionary work as Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac. He created what is now known as the Letterman Plan, which saved the lives of countless Civil War soldiers; and continues to save lives on today’s battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan, and wherever emergency medical help is needed. Letterman’s contribution was not that of the stereotypical surgeon with sleeves rolled up, tending to individuals wounded on the battlefield; rather he created an infrastructure which allowed all of the surgeons of the Army of the Potomac to work more effectively and, for the first time, as a team. His two-fold mission allowed surgeons to provide quality critical care to those most in need which resulted in more lives saved and a “triage” mentality that provided those not mortally wounded with the ability to get back to active duty or active life sooner and healthier. Letterman’s ability to evaluate and update the medical care of the time and empower others on his medical teams to focus on the mission to protect and sustain the Army of the Potomac allowed him to create a plan that has become the foundation of not only battlefield medicine but also civilian emergency medical care today.


4th Annual Awards Dinner

Keynote Speaker: Lieutenant General Eric B. Schoomaker, MD, PhD

2011 Individual: COL Alexander Stojadinovic accepting the Combat Wound Initiative

2011 Organization or Program:  The Military Amputee Research Program


3rd Annual Awards Dinner

Keynote Speaker:  MG Russell J. Czerw, U.S. Army, Retired

2010 Individual Recipient:  COL Robert H. Vandre, In recognition of his leadership in the creation of Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM)

COL Vandre recognized the significant potential that the emerging field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine could have in improving the lives and livelihoods of our wounded warriors returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These warriors, who after modern medicine had done as much as it could for them, remain severely disabled from the traumatic injuries cause by blast and burns. COL Vandre acted on his vision and successfully led the creation of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM).

2010 Organizational Recipient:  The Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat (JTAPIC) Program

Established at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), Fort Detrick, MD, the Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat (JTAPIC) program is a partnership among Department of Defense intelligence, operational, medical and materiel development communities that collects, integrates and analyzes injury and operational data with the goal of improving our understanding of our vulnerabilities to threats and enabling the development of improved tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) and materiel solutions to prevent or mitigate traumatic injuries.


2nd Annual Awards Dinner

Keynote Speaker: GEN Gordon Sullivan, (U.S. Army Retired) President, Association of the U.S. Army & Former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army

2009 Recipient:  Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4)

The U.S. Army’s Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4) integrates fields and supports a comprehensive medical information system, enabling lifelong electronic medical records, streamlined medical logistics and enhanced situational awareness for Army tactical forces.  This group is moving the Letterman plan forward using the best of our modern technology to better inform caregivers who will then be empowered to provide more effective and efficient care to our war fighters on the battlefield and here at home.


1st Annual Awards Dinner

Keynote Speaker: Lieutenant General Ronald R. Blanck, U.S. Army, Retired Army Surgeon General (1996 – 2000)

2008 Recipient:  The City of Frederick, Maryland

In 1861 the City of Frederick was chosen as a hospital center for the Union Army with the establishment of General Hospital Number One, a hospital that would serve over 30,000 patients during the course of the Civil War. The following year Frederick was also designated as the central evacuation point for casualties from the bloody battles of South Mountain and Antietam. Dr. Letterman’s historical, innovative work 145 years ago continues to save lives on the battlefields of today. With the establishment of Fort Detrick in 1943 as the Army’s Medical Research Center, Frederick continued to support the advancement of medical diagnostics, preventives and treatments. Today, the City of Frederick has emerged as a biotechnology center of worldwide renown and influence, and actively remains at the core of that work.

Photos from Past Letterman Dinners



Frederick Patients after the Battle of Antietam

Search through our list below of patients that were treated in Frederick after the Battle of Antietam.