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NEWS | April 28, 2023

Profiles in Professionalism: Lt. Cmdr. Dan Meyer

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Raymond Maddocks, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command Public Affairs

There are many reasons someone might join the military. Some want to follow in their family’s footsteps and join right out of high school, some join to provide for their families during times of financial hardship, and some join out of a sense duty and a drive to help people in need.
Lt. Cmdr. Dan Meyer, a cardiothoracic surgeon, falls into that last category.
In 2021, at the age of 63, Meyer joined the Navy Reserve with the hopes of being able to help those in need by participating in disaster relief and humanitarian aid missions.
Because this type of mission had been a goal for much of Meyer's 25-year career, he initially tried to find opportunities in the civilian world. Meyer reached out to various non-governmental organizations with no luck. Despite continued roadblocks in finding an avenue for this type of work, Meyer decided that he would not give up on this goal.
“I was never successful in finding opportunities to support humanitarian missions with other organizations,” said Meyer. “But I knew I didn’t want to get to the end of my career and have regrets about not going on this type of mission.”
When a colleague in a different specialty returned to the hospital after completing their own humanitarian aid mission with the military, Meyer knew he had to act.
“I knew there was a chance they’d tell me I’m too old and I wouldn’t be able to get a position,” said Meyer. “When I first reached out to a recruiter, I didn’t get a call back; fortunately, a nurse I work with is also a Navy Reserve Sailor. She reached out to her chain of command and they helped me find the right recruiter for my community.”
It took a year, but eventually Meyer was able to join the Navy Reserve, complete officer development school in Newport, Rhode Island, and commission directly as a Lt. Cmdr.
“It was during ODS where I began to think of military servicemembers as ‘us’ instead of ‘them’,” said Meyer. “They really instill in you a sense of pride about what you’re doing, about being part of and leading a team of Sailors.”
Now, three years later, Meyer has, unfortunately, not been able to do any of the missions he joined for, but he is making sure to stay ready on day one.
“I haven’t had the chance yet to go out on any missions, but I make sure to keep qualified and available for when the opportunity comes along,” said Meyer.
Meyer doesn’t just contribute to his own warfighting readiness, but that of his unit, as well. As a physician with 25 years of experience in the field, he played an important role during his most recent annual training.
“On my last AT, I was able to use my clinical experience as a cardiothoracic surgeon and critical care physician to train the team in the casualty receiving area,” said Meyer. “Specifically on managing a variety of thoracic injuries, discussing diagnosis and emergent treatment that needs to be performed immediately.”
Meyer was also part of the training which allowed the operating room (OR) staff to get reps and sets on the types of procedures they’ll see most often.
“In the OR, we trained the surgical nurses and technicians how to repair the more common chest injuries we may encounter,” said Meyer.
He also shared his knowledge on post-surgical care by going over postoperative scenarios with the critical care staff in the intensive care unit. According to Meyer, however, it doesn’t need to be AT for Navy Reserve Sailors to train.
“At my NRC, we have developed a relationship with the local level one trauma center to send our corpsmen on drill weekends to work in the emergency department, learning to assess real trauma patients, perform basic assessment skills, and start IVs,” said Meyer. “This has been a great experience for our sailors, another way we are making certain we are ready to fight, day one.”
While a 20-year military career may not be in the cards for Meyer, he has things he wants to accomplish before his time as a Navy Reserve Sailor is over.
“Obviously my biggest goal is the reason I joined; I want to aid in a humanitarian mission,” said Meyer. “But I would also like the opportunity to train new residents at naval hospitals.”
Meyer said that no matter where he is, whether it be Naval Medical Center Portsmouth or at his command, Expeditionary Medical Facility Camp Pendleton, there is always ample opportunity to teach and train.
“By supporting the younger generation of surgeons, they can learn different methods of surgical care both in and out of the operating room,” said Meyer. “This is another area I hope to have the opportunity to impact: the expertise and readiness of the Medical Corps.”
Meyer joined because of a desire to help people, and even though he hasn’t had the opportunity to go on any humanitarian aid missions yet, he does help people every day, and he will remain an asset to the Navy Reserve for as long as he serves.

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