Going Above and Beyond
When not on the job as chief of the Medical Toxicology Branch at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, Cpt. Gleeson Murphy often volunteers his time to promote educational opportunities and mentorship for culturally diverse student populations or to assist the Aberdeen Proving Ground Veterinary Treatment Facility by providing routine and vital emergency veterinary care to the pets of APG families as well as to military working dogs.
"The reason I volunteer is simple," says Murphy. "I enjoy it. Too often, we are engrossed in our own daily struggles, and it is exceedingly refreshing to offer a helping hand or a kind word to others."
Among his volunteer efforts is Murphy's participation as a professional mentor in the MentorNet program. The nonprofit internet mentoring program was established to promote and support women and other minorities entering the fields of engineering, science and mathematics. During the 8-month program, Murphy assisted one student with the transition from undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan to a graduate school program. This assistance included resume preparation, graduate program selection and application, and eventual acceptance into a fully funded Master's program at the University of Minnesota.
Murphy became aware of the program while doing research for his 2008 Hispanic Heritage Month essay, entitled "Mentors: The Educational Link to the Hispanic Community." That essay won Murphy first place in the competition; he repeated his first place finish in the 2009 Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest with "Mentors II: Prepare for the Fierce Competition." For his 2009 essay, Murphy also received a Certificate of Appreciation from Col. Dan Reilly, commander of the 61st Ordnance Brigade, and Col. Orlando Ortiz, the APG Garrison commander.
Murphy's interest in mentoring is an extension of his love of teaching. As an adjunct faculty member at the Community College of Baltimore County, where he teaches mostly evening and weekend classes in biology and anatomy and physiology, Murphy says that he encounters "many non-traditional students (single-parents, second/third occupation, new career, etc.) rather than the fresh-out-of-high-school types."
"In addition to simply teaching the students," says Murphy, "I find myself often counseling and mentoring many students. The rapport that I develop with the students probably stems from my proximity in age to them and our resultant ability to effectively communicate about daily life and relate it to their educational and career goals."
Murphy also volunteers his time to support the APG VTF, allowing the facility to be staffed during periods in which assigned personnel are unavailable due to other mission needs. While on duty, Murphy, who has his doctorate in veterinary medicine from Louisiana State University, has performed many elective and emergency surgeries and provided preventative medical health care. Murphy describes his support to the VTF as a "multi-win scenario."
"I am able to keep my veterinary clinical skills in-use, owners are able to maintain the health of their pets, military working dog handlers are ensured that their canine counterparts remain healthy and deployable, and the VTF staff and soldiers are able to keep their doors open, support their community, and maintain their own clinical skills," explains Murphy.
While Murphy's dedication to serving his community was recognized in September 2009 when he was awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, for him the rewards are much more personal.
Says Murphy, "A smile, a handshake or a hug, and a sincere 'thank you' typically perpetuate the motivation for volunteering."