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Kansas State University

News release prepared by: Joe Montgomery, 785-532-4193
July 24, 2007

U.S. Army Veterinary Corps gives Daniel Holland Leadership Award to K-State alumnus Neal Woollen



Col. Neal W. Woollen
Lt. Col. Neal W. Woollen

Lt. Col. Neal W. Woollen, Fayetteville, N.C., a K-State veterinary graduate, has been selected by the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps as the inaugural recipient of the Daniel Holland Leadership Award. This award provides personal recognition by the chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps for one Veterinary Corps officer (VCO) who best exemplifies and has made significant contributions in leadership in the Veterinary Corps. The applicant pool for this award includes all commands, agencies, activities and organizations with VCOs assigned as well active duty, Army Reserve and National Guard.

The award will be presented to Woollen at the 10th Annual Force Health Protection Conference in Louisville, Ky., being held Aug. 5-10.

Woollen is a native of Wilcox, Neb. He earned a DVM in 1985, master’s degree in pathology in 1987 and doctorate in pathology in 1989, all three in the College of Veterinary Medicine at K-State.

“We have some tremendous leaders in today’s Army Veterinary Corps,” Woollen said. “It is both a tremendous surprise and honor to have been selected for this award. What makes it truly special for me is that I was nominated by soldiers currently serving with me in Iraq, who it is my privilege to lead. Lt. Col. Holland was one of our great leaders. He is missed. The naming of this award in his honor will help keep his memory alive and a part of our professional family for years to come.”

“We salute Lt. Col. Woollen for the success and recognition he has achieved within the ranks of the Army Veterinary Corps,” Dean Ralph Richardson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine said. “He is highly regarded for his pathology research and has maintained a strong relationship with K-State, most notably through Drs. Jerry and Nancy Jaax, both retired Army Veterinary Corps officers working at K-State. Lt. Col. Woollen has our utmost respect and admiration for being recognized with this significant award.”

“During our service in the Army, we were keenly aware that Woollen had deployed numerous times with his unit,” said Dr. Jerry Jaax, K-State’s associate vice provost for research compliance and the university veterinarian. “He was a key member of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases research team, fulfilling a vital role in the unit’s mission and accomplishments.”

Dr. Nancy Jaax, one of Woollen’s primary military mentors, said, “He greatly expanded the horizons of military veterinary pathology at the operational level and was a leader in demonstrating how rapid diagnostics contribute to the protection of our Armed Forces during theatre deployment. He was the key player in transitioning veterinary pathology from the laboratory bench to the field. These attributes exemplify what the Dan Holland Leadership Award is all about.”

Throughout his Army career, Woollen distinguished himself as a leader and a veterinary pathologist. He played a key role in the national response to the 2001 anthrax attacks, participated in field research on Ebola virus, was a member of the UNSCOM inspection team in Iraq and commanded the Theater Army Medical Laboratory deployed to Kuwait in 1998. Currently, LTC Woollen commands the 248th Veterinary Medical Detachment in the Iraq Theater of Operations.

Under Woollen’s commands, 57 soldiers have provided veterinary service support to more than 130,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines located at 55 forward operating bases. In the first six months of deployment, his soldiers have conducted more than 230 site visits to food receiving operations, inspected $178 million worth of subsistence, facilitated the condemnation and destruction of $1.5 million of distressed or damaged subsistence, provided medical care to more than 550 working dogs and revised the zoonotic disease reporting and prevention programs while operating safely in an active combat zone.

The Holland award’s namesake, Daniel Edward Holland, was a 1988 DVM graduate of Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. His 21-year military career included tours in Germany, Bosnia, Honduras and Haiti. Lt. Col. Holland’s love for animals and compassion for people of all nations were profound. Holland died May 18th, 2006 while serving his country on a civil affairs mission in Iraq. He and three other soldiers, along with an Iraqi interpreter, were killed by a roadside bomb near Baghdad

Holland was posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart. His other military decorations include four awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal, and he was proud to have earned the Expert Field Medical Badge and Parachutist Badge.