This is one of an occasional series of reports on people, events and places connected with Marion County.
FORT POLK, LA. – The “bossy” head cheerleader for the Bulldogs now commands a U.S. Army hospital.
Colonel Jody Dugai, a 1993 graduate of Jefferson High School and a 1997 Distinguished Military Graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University Army ROTC, assumed command May 29 of Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital (BJACH).
“Jefferson is my hometown,” Dugai said. “It’s where I grew up. I learned a lot about how to become the leader that I am now.”
Dugai admitted her friends thought she was bossy, but she has moved from bossy to leader.
“I enjoyed the sciences,” Dugai said. “I did go to SFA knowing I wanted to be in nursing.”
One teacher stood out in her memory.
“I loved Mrs. Sarah Dorough,” Dugai said. “She was the math teacher when I was there. I just loved that along with the sciences. Math is integral to what we do.”
The change of command ceremony was full of military pomp and circumstance.
BG Jeffery Johnson, U.S. Army Regional Health Command Central, welcomed Dugai as the newest in a long line of great leaders at BJACH.
“I know that you are the right leader at the right time for BJACH, the region and military medicine. In addition to your knowledge and skill as an emergency and trauma nurse, you possess the leadership necessary to ensure this command continues to excel as an organization through professional development and attention to the important challenges that lie ahead for us as the military health system continues to transition into the future,” he said.
“You will champion readiness and oversee this command as a premiere expeditionary and globally integrated medical force,” Johnson continued. “I’m confident in your skills as a leader. Under your guidance, the BJACH healthcare team will continue to excel in its role as a partner with JRTC and the surrounding communities.”
Dugai said it was with enormous pride that she joined BJACH, JRTC and the Fort Polk Family.
“I am honored and humbled as I stand before you today,” Dugai said. “BJACH is an incredible unit, but it’s also a team made up of soldiers, civilians, contractors and families, each of whom share the triumphs and sacrifices of service to a great nation.
Thank you all for what you do and I look forward to serving with you,” she said.
Dugai earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing at SFA and a Master of Science in Nursing as an Emergency/Trauma Nursing Clinical Nurse Practitioner from the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston.
She is a graduate of the Army War College with a Master of Strategic Studies. She is also a graduate of numerous military and healthcare professional courses.
Dugai served in Afghanistan as Team Leader, United Kingdom Bastion Emergency Department, Senior Nursing Officer, Shindand Airbase and 10th Combat Support Hospital.
She recently served as the Deputy commander for Nursing at Moncrief Army Health clinic, Ft. Jackson, SC. Previous assignments also include Team Leader and Clinical Staff Nurse in emergency department at both Darnall Army Medical Center, Ft. Hood and Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Ft. Gordon, GA.
Dugai’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.
She also holds the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
Dugai has earned the Expert Field Medical Badge, German Parachutist Badge, Parachutist Badge and the Army Medical Department’s Order of Military Medical Merit.
Angie Thorne, Ft. Polk Public Affairs Unit, contributed to this report.
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