Ryan Blanck, CPO, a Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), Fort Sam Houston, Texas, employee received a top Army honor for his innovation and dedication to caring for wounded service members.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno presented Blanck, a prosthetist at the Center for the Intrepid (CFI), San Antonio, Texas, with the Meritorious Civilian Service Award during a special “twilight tattoo” at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, on May 22. The ceremony included placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The award is the second highest honor granted by the Army to civilian employees.
The Seattle, Washington, native has been building upper and lower prostheses for wounded service members at the CFI, BAMC’s rehabilitation center, for about five years. But it’s his work developing the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis (IDEO) for which he was honored. The IDEO is an energy-storing device that works by offloading the limb and allowing the patient to operate the lower limb in a way that avoids pain.
According to an Army press release, the device is attributed with singlehandedly helping to turn the tide on a trend of wounded service members opting to undergo limb salvage. These patients are often faced with years of long recoveries, while their amputee battle buddies tend to regain significant functions about six months after amputation, Blanck explained. With the IDEO, these service members now have a go-to option that enables them to not only fully walk in a short time, but run, jump, and sprint. Blanck has fitted nearly 430 service members with IDEOs, and more than 70 have redeployed.
“If not for…the service members, the IDEO wouldn’t have been developed,” he said. “They paid a price that’s hard to imagine. It’s because of them, because of the impact I’m able to have in this job, that gets me up early in the morning and keeps me here late at night.”
Blanck was among five civilians honored by the Army chief of staff at the event. The other honorees, who received the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award Medal, included musician and film director Gary Sinise, businesswoman and real estate producer Kathleen Gagg, Fisher House Foundation Chairman Ken Fisher, and Deborah Tymon, senior vice president of marketing for the New York Yankees.