USAMRMC says 'Goodbye' to COL Janet Harris

Col. Janet Harris

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command prepares to say ‘goodbye’ to Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine Research Program Director Col. Janet Harris after 33 years of service June 24.

Harris assumed the role of director of the newly established CRMRP in August of 2008. While serving as director, she handled all planning, coordinating and monitoring duties of the science and technology research program. She specifically focused on definitive and rehabilitative care and innovations required to reset warriors in terms of both their duty performance as well as their quality of life. Her research areas of expertise include ethics, clinical research, outcomes management, survey/instrument development, and health service research.

“This particular job has really been a very gratifying one. You see all the individuals injured from defending our freedom, and being able to do research into areas that provide solutions for them so they can return to their life is very gratifying,” said Harris. “I think having the opportunity to interact with the wounded warriors and really be able to see how the research you’re doing is helping their lives is really very rewarding and to see the things that you’ve done really make a difference.”

In addition to her position as the director of CRMRP, Harris also serves as the chair for the Tri-Service Joint Technical Coordinating Group for Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine and Chair for the Joint Programmatic Committee for Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine. Harris has also served on editorial boards of publications for organizations including the U.S. Army Medical Department and the Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Throughout her 33 year career she has built an extensive resume to include many military awards for her service. Harris’ military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Award with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with two OLC, the Army Achievement Medal, the Order of Military Medical Merit, and the “A” Professional Designator.

“I’ve had a pretty diverse career and I’ve been very blessed with opportunities where, if you seize those opportunities, you can make a difference,” said Harris.

Having a background in the area of critical care, Harris spent the first third or so of her career as a critical care nurse, moving from there into the area of education at Fort Sam Houston where she served as chief of the Department of Nursing Science. She also served as the Nursing Research Consultant to the Army Surgeon General. Harris is also an associate Professor of nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

All in all, “I’ve sort of done all three of the triads. I spent a lot of time in critical care, then I did the education piece, and then I ended up coming here to MRMC where for the last seven years I’ve been very involved in the research management,” said Harris.

Other professional awards she has received include the Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee Army Nurse of the Year Award in 2000, the Federal Nursing Service Award in 1997, and the Phyllis J. Verhonick Army Nurse Corps Award of Excellence in Research in 1990 and 1998.

Who does Harris contribute her success to?

“Colonel Jeri Graham was my Chief Nurse at Walter Reed and for the last half of my career has just really been an advocate. She’s one of the most amazing people, and as a leader she was always very good at making sure that her staffs accomplishments were highlighted while trying to make sure that they were matched to a good position, either there or somewhere else, for the Corps,” said Harris. “I learned a great deal of leadership skills from her and what it means to be a good leader while making sure that you are taking care of your staff and that you are trying to help mentor them as well as to foster their improvement. She is a great person.”

Harris’ inspirations also include Gen. Bester and Col. Gueste for their mentorship and guidance for the duration of her time at Fort Sam Houston as Chief of the Department of Nursing Science.

Continuing on her list of thanks, Harris said, “Here in the Command, I would have to say Dr. Kenneth Bertram. He really did a great job of educating me into the MRMC and the medical acquisition way of doing business. I’ve always been very grateful for everything that he taught me,” said Harris. As well as “General Schoomaker and General Weightman for having the vision for this new program and for their faith in me that I was the right person to start up this new area.” Col. Harris also offered her thanks to Dr. John Glenn for his mentorship and Maj. Gen. James Gilman for being a wonderful advocate and spokesman for CRMRP.

While reminiscing on her time with the CRMRP, Harris remarked, “I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to stand up something like this program. It has just been an amazing experience to do that and to see how far we have come in such a short period of time and to see that we actually have things that, in the very near future, can potentially be used by our wounded warriors. That’s really been very rewarding.”

“It’s really going to be sad to leave. It’s really hard to believe,” said Harris, “I really love MRMC and the MRMC mission.”

She also said, “We have some pretty exciting products that are coming forward in the regenerative medicine field. We have several things that are in clinical trials that we are optimistic will transition through clinical trials and be available for use for our patients,” said Harris.

Harris plans on taking a few months off. “I’ll probably come back to work for the Department of Defense in some capacity,” said Harris.

Lt. Col. John Scherer will be replacing Harris as CRMRP Director. Scherer comes to CRMRP from his prior assignment as the Chief of Surety for the Army Medical Command from 2009 to 2011.

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Last Modified Date: 20-Jun-2011