British alumnus, US Army major uses degree to spread public health mission

LEXINGTON, Kentucky (October 13, 2022) — Major Ahmad Alexander, an alumnus, graduated from the Master of Public Health (MPH) program in 2018 and is currently the Chief of the Department of Public Health at William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) in the United States Army.

Located in Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas, WBAMC is a preeminent military healthcare delivery operation and one of the largest and most complex healthcare institutions in the world.

Growing up in the small town of Vacherie, Louisiana, Alexander’s childhood influences included his older brother and sister, who both served in the military – the US Army and US Air Force, respectively. .

“I admired them both and they influenced my military journey,” Alexander said. “I knew I wanted to serve my country and decided to join the military during my senior year of high school.”

Serving in the Louisiana National Guard for eight years, from 1997 to 2005, as a unit supply specialist, Alexander rose through the junior enlisted ranks from private to specialist.

He graduated from Nicholls State University with an undergraduate degree in communication disorders in 2006. He then received his doctorate in audiology from Louisiana Tech University in 2010.

“In the military, audiology falls under public health, formerly called preventative medicine,” Alexander said. “It was my first opportunity to help others be healthier by managing their disorders related to hearing, balance and other neural systems.”

For several years, Ahmad expanded his professional experiences in audiology at Southwestern Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic (New Mexico), West Texas Rehabilitation Center (Texas), Reynolds Army Community Hospital (Oklahoma), Vilseck Army Health Clinic (Germany) and the US Army Public Health Center (Maryland).

In 2016, the military gave Alexander the opportunity to expand his education in public health.

“I applied and got accepted to several schools to get my MPH,” Alexander said. “I chose the University of Kentucky because I felt a good rapport. They were as interested in me as I was in them. While I was stationed in Germany at the time, the collaboration and communication between students and faculty really stood out for me.

In 2020, two years after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health with an MPH, Alexander completed his graduate studies and was hired as the next U.S. Army Public Health Chief at WBAMC.

Alexander oversees approximately 100 personnel across eight programs: Army Hearing, Army Public Health Nursing (APHN), Army Wellness Center (AWC), Environmental Health, Health Physical , industrial hygiene, occupational health and support of senior leaders. Each of these programs is managed by a program manager, who reports directly to Alexander.

Alexander leads as Public Health Expert (SME) for a beneficiary population of over 130,000 spanning a 550 square mile training area to include Fort Bliss, Texas Garrison (FBTX) , White Sands Missile Range, Base Camp Dona Ana, Base Camp McGregor, Base Camp Oro Grande and Base Camp Westbrook.

Overseeing a $6.5 million budget, Alexander and his team provide Force Health Protection (FHP) guidance to 1st Armored Division (1AD) and principle FBTX units to ensure a medically ready force. . He is also the Alternate Public Health Emergency Officer (APHEO) for the FBTX footprint.

“Growing up in a small town and now leading public health efforts for a community of this size is certainly a stark contrast,” Alexander said. “In order to serve our population well, we rely on collaboration. Our team works with state and city health departments. Networking and knowing your resources are key.

Alexander acknowledges that there can sometimes be a perceived difference in the public health mission for civilian populations versus the military. For him, the goal is always the same.

“It’s always about protecting the health of the community and the people we serve,” Alexander said. “It’s about putting people first, and that includes everyone. When the last troops came out of Afghanistan, our base housed about 10,000 Afghans. We did not call them refugees. We called them our “guests” and made sure their living conditions met our public health standards.

In his duty and role on base, Alexander believes that being a health champion is about protecting people’s health, mental health and work/life balance; and understand that family matters and we need to get to know the person behind the uniform, their rank and position.

“Once we do that, we can come together, collaborate, and champion entire populations,” Alexander said. “We need to think of people as people, not just numbers.”

About John Tuttle

Check Also

Sons of the American Revolution Presents Certificate to Kern Family Health Care

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) – The Kern Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution recognized …