VADM C. Everett Koop Junior Officer Award
The VADM C. Everett Koop Junior Officer Award was initiated in 2017 to recognize a junior officer who emulates the commitment, contributions, and character of the 13th Surgeon General of the United States, VADM Koop. The recipient of this award demonstrates exceptional leadership and outstanding capability by undertaking highly visible special assignments.
The 2023 recipient of the VADM C. Everett Koop Junior Officer Award is LCDR Beth Wittry!
LCDR Beth Wittry has worked in three duty stations, supporting missions spanning from providing direct public health services to underserved indigenous populations to traveling around the globe in a mission-critical assignment to protect our borders. She now serves as a national environmental health (EH) subject matter expert to advance public health policy nationwide. These diverse experiences have shown her that both the public interest and the professionals who serve it benefit when scientific findings are translated into actionable strategies. To that end, LCDR Wittry routinely leverages EH research through partnerships, education, and policy designed to strengthen infrastructure, equip leaders to respond to emergent hazards, and govern public health threats.
LCDR Wittry is stationed with the CDC National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) and serves as a national EH advisor to multiple federal workgroups, professional associations, and state, local, territorial, and tribal partners. She conducts research to understand the environmental factors responsible for foodborne illness and outbreaks, and used her findings to strengthen the 2017 and 2022 FDA Food Codes, CDC outbreak surveillance and emergency response/recovery guidance, and global EH best practices. She has been chosen to serve as an EH team lead and subject matter expert in multiple deployments and TDYs (1305 days), where she used her frontline knowledge to operationalize infection control strategies and effectively prevent and control foodborne, waterborne, and infectious diseases. She has authored multiple publications and created CDC webpage guidance, advanced EH science and practice by presenting during hundreds of international presentations and trainings, and strengthened national outbreak preparedness and public health emergency response plans. Her efforts have measurably reduced the severity of outbreaks and spurred the adoption of new, data-driven EH policies to mitigate illness.
LCDR Wittry had the distinct pleasure to serve as the JOAG Chair from 2020-2021 and lead the group during a time of transition, modernization, and pandemic. In this role, she advocated for 3,000 junior officers to CCHQ and leveraged junior officer feedback to update two longstanding Corps policies on deployments and trainings. She bolstered partnerships between chartered organizations to advance junior officer development, utilization, and readiness. She now serves as an EHOPAC Voting Member and applies lessons learned from her seven years serving with JOAG to improve PAC operations. She also serves as the NCEH representative to the CDC Awards Board and co-chairs the NCEH mentoring program for commissioned corps officers.
LCDR Wittry received her BS in Molecular Environmental Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2008 and her MPH in Environmental Health from San Diego State University in 2010. Her most challenging yet fulfilling assignment is being a mother, and she has become an expert playground adventurer. She resides in Atlanta, GA, with her husband, 16-month-old daughter, and 6-year-old boxer.