Military Advisory Board

Soldiers serve as Honor Guard

The Patriot Support Programs Advisory Board is comprised of a former Secretary of Veterans Affairs and six distinguished retired service members from various branches of the U.S. military that offer their insights and recommendations. We thank them for their service and value their contributions as we continuously evolve our offerings in support of the men, women, and families of the Armed Forces.

Advisory Board Members

The Honorable David Shulkin, MD, Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs

The Honorable David Shulkin, MD, Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Dr. David Shulkin is an American physician and former government official. In 2017, Shulkin became the ninth United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs and served under President Donald Trump. He was the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health from 2015 to 2017, appointed by President Barack Obama. As Secretary, Dr. Shulkin represented the 21 million American Veterans and was responsible for the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system, with over 1,200 sites of care serving over 9 million Veterans.

Ron Place headshot

Lieutenant General (Ret) Ronald Place, MD, Former Director, Defense Health Agency

Dr. Ron Place retired in early 2023 after 37 years of U.S. military service, most recently as the Director (CEO) of the Defense Health Agency, where he was responsible for executive leadership pertaining to worldwide Department of Defense medical programs and played a key role in the merging of three health services into an integrated network. Before transitioning into executive roles, Dr. Place served as a full-time surgeon, with combat deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo. Dr. Place is board certified in both General Surgery and Colorectal Surgery. A South Dakota native, he is currently the regional president and CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center and serves on the Board of Directors for The Link Community Triage Center, the Avera Heart Hospital, and the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, all in Sioux Falls.

Lieutenant General (Ret) Bruce Green MD, MPH, United States Air Force

Lieutenant General (Ret) Bruce Green, MD, MPH, Former Surgeon General, United States Air Force

Dr. Bruce Green is a family physician and Veteran with 34 years of service in the Air Force. He retired at the rank of Lt. General in 2012 as the 20th Air Force Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force Medical Service. Subsequently as Managing Director and Chief Medical Officer for Deloitte’s Federal Health practice, he advised Deloitte’s federal and commercial health clients and served as a thought leader in health strategy, innovation, clinical quality, public health policy and preparedness.

Rear Admiral (Ret) Bruce Gillingham, MD, United States Navy

Rear Admiral (Ret) Bruce Gillingham, MD, Former Surgeon General, United States Navy

Dr. Bruce Gillingham retired as a rear admiral from the United States Navy after 40 years of active service. His military career culminated as the Surgeon General of the Navy, the senior medical officer in the Department of the Navy responsible for advising the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He led the transition of Navy Medicine’s primary focus from hospital-based care to providing an expeditionary medical force capable of responding to the full spectrum of military operations.

Paul Higgins

Rear Admiral (Ret) Paul Higgins, MD, Director, Health and Safety Division, United States Public Health Service and United States Coast Guard

Dr. Higgins retired as a Rear Admiral after serving 23 years in the U.S. Public Health Service and U.S. Coast Guard. His last position was Director of the Health and Safety Division, the most senior medical officer in the Coast Guard. Following retirement, Dr. Higgins served eight years as Medical Director for the Navy Mutual Aid Association’s veterans mutual life insurance, and then as the V.P. Medical Director for General Reinsurance Corporation’s life, disability and Medicare supplement insurance.

Major General (Ret) Jerry Fenwick, MC, United States Air Force, Air National Guard

Major General (Ret) Jerry L. Fenwick, MD, Former Joint Surgeon, National Guard Bureau

Jerry Fenwick retired in 2021 after 35 years of service in both the U.S. Army and Air Force. His final assignment was as Director, Office of the Joint Surgeon and Surgeon General of the National Guard, in Washington, D.C. His career as an Emergency Medicine Physician has included multiple deployments, with a focus on austere medicine and patient movement. Following retirement, Dr. Fenwick became the Chief Medical Officer for Disaster and International Medicine for Longview Technology, in Herndon, Virginia.

Chief Master Sergeant (Ret) Charles Cole, United States Air Force

Chief Master Sergeant (Ret) Charles Cole, Former Chief of the Medical Enlisted Force, United States Air Force

Charles R. Cole was the U.S. Air Force Chief, Medical Enlisted Force (CMEF), Office of the Surgeon General, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Chief Cole was the personal advisor to the Air Force Surgeon General, and was responsible for the training, utilization, force development and career progression for 32,000 enlisted medical personnel serving in 35 specialties. He ensured a cost-effective, patient-centered and prevention-based healthcare continuum for 2.6 million beneficiaries worldwide and built strategic partnerships with senior leaders at the U.S. Department of Defense, Veterans Health Administration, federal agencies, academia and other U.S. and allied medical services.