Commander Erin M. Simmons, USN (posthumous)
Hero of Military Medicine Honoree
Commander Erin Simmons wanted to be a writer when she was a young girl. She authored her first book while still in high school. However, it was her profound sense of duty and a call to serve others that would set the course for her career.
Simmons, a 2019 Hero of Military Medicine honoree, served as a psychologist in the Navy for 15 years, including tours in Japan, North Carolina and California. She was embedded in Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC)-West from 2013-2015 before transferring to the Naval Medical Center San Diego, where she served as division officer of OASIS, the Navy’s only residential program for posttraumatic stress disorder.
Simmons created and directed three intensive outpatient programs addressing posttraumatic stress disorder, mild traumatic brain injury and general mental health. She deployed twice to Iraq, conducted “Battlefield Rounds” with MARSOC Marines and Sailors in Afghanistan, and led the mental health crisis response mission in Yokosuka, Japan, following the USS Fitzgerald collision in June 2017. She was most recently deployed on the USNS Mercy from January to July 2018. She died in a motor vehicle accident while on post deployment leave in August 2018.
Commander Melissa Lauby said, “When we saw this award advertised, we knew it was the perfect way to honor the legacy of our friend and colleague.” Lauby goes on to say, “Commander Simmons developed well-planned programs designed to meet the patients at their level. She developed the Back on Track program at Camp Lejuene after conducting analysis of the needs of the patient population she was treating. She tailored the program to provide the most needed interventions together in one deliverable. This enabled patients to receive treatment as soon as it became available and allowed many patients to find a much quicker return to duty. She was truly a force multiplier from that respect.”
Her husband, Jesse, describes her as a champion of new and cutting-edge mental health programs for the “Her ability to break down barriers across medical disciplines and coordinate a complete health care profile, organically, in her programs was groundbreaking. Her impact was without a doubt monumental.”
“Her patients came first and her programs were focused on them, but she developed and refined numerous programs for providers, as well,” he said.
Lauby agrees, ““I remember talking with her in the midst of a very difficult deployment and despite many obstacles, her focus was always on making sure that her patients were well taken care of and all of her responsibilities met, even if it meant having to give up some of the little personal time she did have.” Lauby adds that this focus extended to her friends, family, and colleagues. “Erin always wore a smile on her face and was genuinely happy to see you. She was never too busy to help a colleague or friend in need. She was a dedicated mentor and an exceptional role model. We miss her greatly.”
CDR Erin M. Simmons, MSC, USN passed away on August 21, 2018. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Linda Golob and Allan Eudell on January 8, 1976.
CDR Erin Simmons earned her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Adelphi University in New York and completed her clinical internship at what is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland in 2004. She has served as a psychologist in the Navy for the past 15 years and 2 months, including tours at Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan; Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Naval Health Clinic Cherry Point, North Carolina; and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, California. She was embedded in Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC)-West from 2013-2015 before transferring to the Naval Medical Center San Diego, where she has served for the past 2 years as Division Officer of OASIS, the Navy’s only Residential PTSD Program.
CDR Simmons deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in 2004-2005 with the Marine Corps’ First Medical Battalion; and to Ramadi, Iraq in 2008 with the Army's 62nd Task Force, 56th Brigade. She conducted “Battlefield Rounds” with MARSOC Marines & Sailors in the Afghanistan provinces of Herat and Helmond in 2013; and she led the mental health crisis response mission in Yokosuka, Japan following the USS FITZGERALD collision in June 2017. CDR Simmons has created and directed 3 manualized intensive outpatient programs addressing PTSD, mild TBI, and general mental health. She has also presented, lectured, and written extensively about PTSD, Deployment Psychology, and military women's and family issues; as well as Disaster Psychology and Compassion Fatigue, in the interests of helping civilian and military professionals to improve the care and service of America's Warriors.
CDR Simmons was most recently deployed on the USNS MERCY from January - July 2018. In Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam she conducted 20 mental health seminars which increased the clinical capacity of these host nations. In addition, onboard USNS MERCY, she created the Resiliency Program Series which improved the coping and stress management skills of over 100 Sailors.
Her adventurous personality drove her love of traveling, motorcycling and martial arts. Erin was a devoted wife, loving daughter and cherished friend. She is survived by her husband, Jesse; Father, Allan; Mother, Linda; Brother, Jared; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles.