- By Amy Rollins Skywrighter Staff
An annual award meant to honor an individual who has significantly touched the lives of patients and families at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Fisher Houses with outstanding compassion and support has gone to an interagency program coordinator. He has been known to pick up and drive a veteran from the compassionate care facility to a medical appointment or surgical procedure at 4 or 5 a.m.
Roger (Tony) Crews serves as a liaison between the Wright-Patterson Medical Center and the Veterans Integrated Service Network 10, which includes 10 VA medical centers and 63 VA community-based outpatient clinics, serving more than 685,000 veterans located throughout the lower peninsula of Michigan, Ohio, northern Kentucky and Indiana. He works to ensure veterans receive specialty care like urology, cardiology, orthopedics and neurosurgery when opportunity exists within the 88th Medical Group.
Crews received the award in December during the holiday party for the Fisher Houses. The award was presented to Crews by Col. Shari Silverman, 88th Medical Group commander. She was assisted by Karen Healea, Wright-Patterson Fisher House manager.
A native of Greenville, Ohio, Crews has been working in his current capacity at Wright-Patterson AFB since 2014.
The Emmett Broxson Award is named after Dr. Emmett Broxson, who served as director of the Pediatric Specialty Clinic at Wright-Patterson Medical Center from 1988 to 1996. The award honoring Broxson is the most prestigious recognition given by the houses in honor of the families served.
“The Broxson Award recognizes an individual who epitomizes caring and compassion,” Silverman said. “It is no surprise that our Fisher House guests selected Mr. Tony Crews as this year’s Broxson Award winner. Tony is truly a hero serving heroes in his role as the 88th Medical Group’s liaison to our Veterans Affairs partners.
“He does it all, from arranging base access and transporting patients to ensuring our VA patients enjoy a five-star patient experience,” Silverman continued “Not only has Tony provided outstanding customer service to our veterans, he upholds the goals and ideals of the Fisher House, ensuring they have a home away from home. If you ask Tony, however, he’ll only say he’s just doing his job.”
“The Fisher House receives consistent and endless thanks and appreciation regarding Tony’s exemplary customer service and caring attitude,” said Karen Healea, Fisher Houses manager. “He is patient-first, and ensures that they receive the highest level of service.”
Crews said he is honored to serve local veterans and loves his job.
“I coordinate with a number of agencies from the VA and our 88th medical personnel. It’s a huge team effort,” he said.
Such efforts can include working with the 88th Security Forces Squadron to obtain base passes for veterans and directing them to the Fisher Houses for accommodations.
“The Fisher Houses are incredible in what they do for the veterans,” Crews said. “The veterans can’t believe the facilities we have here; they are amazed.”
Some of the veterans have social and welfare needs.
“They are very appreciative of the respect and care we give them,” he said. “They deserve our gratitude and help.”
Serving the veterans is a win-win, Crews noted.
“It develops currency with our doctors, nurses and everyone involved for down the road and down range,” he said.
Crews knows where veterans are coming from. He retired from the Air Force after 21 years of service as a medical administrator, mostly working in medical information systems. He was deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, in 2005 with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group.
“It gives you a new respect for life,” he said.
“I feel honored to win the Broxson Award and to be recognized for my work,” Crews said. “I really love the veterans. They’re what makes this job easy. I’m very blown away and very honored.”
Word is spreading about what is being accomplished at the 88 MDG. Crews said he is consulting with Nellis AFB, Nevada, to replicate Wright-Patterson’s success with its program.
About the Fisher Houses
The Wright-Patterson Fisher Houses are compassionate care facilities for servicemen and servicewomen, and their families, located on Wright-Patterson AFB within walking distance of the medical center. The houses provide a comfortable place to stay, serving patients and families from all branches of the military receiving active medical treatment at the medical center. The houses provide a home away from home for families in need. Nineteen rooms are available.