Leadership Team - Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
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Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center

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Leadership Team

Dr. Robert Buckley, Director

Dr. Robert Buckley | 224-610-3002


Dr. Robert Buckley was appointed as the Director of Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (Lovell FHCC) on Oct. 15, 2018. He is responsible for strategic leadership and operations. He leads an integrated VA/Department of Defense team of approximately 3,500 employees, serving veterans, active duty military and military dependents. Lovell FHCC is responsible for the medical readiness of more than 40,000 Navy recruits annually. Dr. Robert Buckley recently served as the Chief of Staff of the Jesse Brown Veterans Health Care System. He entered the VA in 2016 after a career in the US Navy, where he held the rank of Navy Captain, serving his last assignment as Deputy Director and Commanding Officer of Lovell FHCC. Dr. Buckley attended Northwestern University Medical School, with Distinction/Alpha Omega Alpha in 1987 and later completing a residency in Emergency Medicine at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He went on to serve as Residency Program Director and Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Naval Medical Center San Diego, improving quality, satisfaction, overall scholarly activity, and was twice awarded top teaching awards. He had multiple deployments afloat and ashore in the Middle East to include serving as Officer-in-Charge of a US Marine Corps Shock Trauma Platoon during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Director of Clinical Services of US Navy Expeditionary Medical Facility Kuwait and as Force/Fleet Surgeon (CMO) in Bahrain for all US Naval Forces throughout the Middle East and in Afghanistan. He has extensive leadership experience to include serving as Chief of Staff (CMO/COO) the $1.3 billion, tri-service Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in the National Capital Area, which successfully opened and gained full accreditation in 2011 under his leadership. He has multiple peer-reviewed publications, presentations, DoD and VHA awards and commendations, and was thrice awarded the Legion of Merit.

Captain Thomas J. Nelson, Deputy Director & Commanding Officer

Captain Thomas J. Nelson

Deputy Director & Commanding Officer

CAPT Nelson was appointed as the Deputy Director of Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (Lovell FHCC) and the Commanding Officer for Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Great Lakes, the command for all Navy personnel working at Lovell FHCC’s main hospital and clinics, on June 30, 2020. As the deputy director, CAPT Nelson supports the director with all leadership and administration functions within the health care center. He maintains Uniformed Code of Military Justice authority and is responsible for the day-to-day operations at Lovell FHCC. CAPT Nelson, comes from an assignment as executive officer, Naval Hospital Okinawa. He is a native of Everett, Washington. He was selected for a Health Professions Scholarship while completing his undergraduate studies at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois and commissioned in 1991 as an Ensign. After graduating from Rush Medical College in 1995, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant and completed his general surgery residency at Naval Medical Center San Diego in 2002. In addition, he completed fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California in 2007.   He has served in a variety of clinical posts and leadership positions during his 23-year career. After tours at sea on USS Juneau (LPD 10) and USS John C Stennis (CVN 74), he made combat deployments to Iraq, the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan as a trauma surgeon. He has delivered surgical care at sea and in austere field hospitals around the world. He served for five years as teaching faculty at Naval Medical Center San Diego’s Department of General Surgery and holds and an appointment as assistant professor of surgery from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.   From 2011-2014, he served as the chief of professional services for 1st Medical Battalion, enhancing pre-deployment preparation of deploying surgical companies using a robust didactic and skills-based curriculum, which relied heavily on simulation to ready trauma teams for deployment to Afghanistan. In this role, he was appointed the Marine Corps representative to the Combat Trauma Surgery Committee. Prior to becoming executive officer, Naval Hospital Okinawa, he was director of surgical services at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in support of the Marines, Sailors and families of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.   A diplomat of the American Board of Surgery, CAPT Nelson is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and active in the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons and Pacific Coast Surgical Association. His military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (five awards), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Dr. Praveen Mehta, Chief Medical Executive

Dr. Praveen Mehta

Chief Medical Executive

Dr. Mehta is the Acting Chief Medical Executive for Lovell FHCC, responsible for the direction and coordination of all clinical functions and management at the medical center. Prior to being appointed Acting CME, Dr. Mehta, MD, MBA, was the Chief Medical Officer, VISN 12. In that role he oversaw clinical activities at Veterans Integrated Service Network 12, which includes eight VA Medical Centers, 41 community based outpatient clinics, seven Community Living Centers and seven domiciliaries, offering health care services to more than 800,000 veterans who reside in its four-state (Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper peninsula and Northwest Indiana) area.

Captain Jeremy Hawker, Executive Officer

Captain Jeremy Hawker

Executive Officer

Captain Hawker was appointed Executive Officer on May 24, 2021 for Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Great Lakes, the command for all Navy personnel working at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center’s main hospital and clinics. Captain Hawker was born in Mankato, MN and attended Minnesota State University in Mankato, MN where he received his Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 1995. Following Officer Indoctrination School, his first assignment was Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, VA where he served on the Internal Medicine Ward and Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Captain Hawker then transferred to Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan where he continued as an ICU nurse before being accepted to Perioperative Nursing School at Camp Pendleton, CA. Upon completing perioperative nursing training, he received orders to National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, MD where he served as Division Officer for Neurosurgery and deployed twice aboard USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20) supporting Rescuer/MEDCEUR 02 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was then selected as the Ship's Nurse for USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) in Norfolk, VA where he earned his Surface Warfare Medical Department Officer qualification and assisted IKE in completing Crew Certification following its mid-life refueling and overhaul. Captain Hawker was then selected for Duty Under Instruction at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, where he graduated with honors in 2008 with a Masters of Science in Nursing as a Perioperative Clinical Nurse Specialist while completing his research in "Acinetobacter baumannii in Traumatic War Wounds" and earning the Military Officer Association of America Outstanding Student Award. After graduation, Captain Hawker received orders to Naval Hospital Lemoore, CA as Department Head of the Perioperative Nursing Department, and deployed to NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan where he served as the Head Air Evacuation Liaison. Returned to Naval Hospital Lemoore as Department Head for Quality Management and Staff Education and Training, and later transferred to the Surface Warfare Medical Institute (SWMI) in San Diego, California. Upon arrival to SWMI, he filled the role of Assistant Officer in Charge before selecting as Officer in Charge (OIC). On completion of his OIC tour, Captain Hawker was assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, and served as Associate Director for Surgical Services, later fleeting up to Director to lead 1,000 personnel. During this time he was awarded the Military Health System, Senior Military Nursing Leadership Excellence Award and selected as Senior Nurse Executive (SNE) for Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. As SNE, he was critical to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s COVID-19 base-wide response and led the command through a successful Joint Commission survey. Captain Hawker also established the Expeditionary Medicine Directorate within the Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) structure for NMRTC Camp Pendleton, setting the path for tracking and sustainment of Knowledge, Skills and Abilities for 1,245 active duty personnel. Captain Hawker's personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), and various service awards.

Command Master Chief Veronica L. Brittenum, Command Master Chief

Command Master Chief Veronica L. Brittenum

Command Master Chief

Command Master Chief Brittenum was appointed Command Master Chief on April 19, 2021, serving as the senior enlisted leader of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Great Lakes, the command for all Navy personnel working at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center’s main hospital and clinics. Master Chief Brittenum is a native of Memphis, Tennessee where she graduated from Whitehaven High School in 1986. She enlisted in the United States Navy and reported to Recruit Training Command, Orlando, Florida in March of 1993. Immediately upon completion of basic training, she attended Hospital Corpsman “A” School in Great Lakes, Illinois. Her first assignment was at Naval Hospital Millington in Millington, Tennessee. Her shore assignments include National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, Navy Personnel Command, Millington, Tennessee, and Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois where she served as a Recruit Division Commander and earned the Distinguished Leadership Award and her Master Training Specialist certification. She also served as the Senior Enlisted Leader for Naval Branch Health Clinic Belle Chasse, New Orleans, Louisiana. Her sea tours include Fleet Surgical Team One, San Diego, California where she completed two deployments in the Western Pacific and earned her Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualifications. In June 2011, she returned to San Diego where she had the distinction of being the first crew member, Plank Owner, and Health Services Department Leading Chief Petty Officer onboard USS SOMERSET (LPD 25). A member of Class 169 (Green), she attended the Senior Enlisted Academy Resident Course where she graduated as the Honor Graduate and received the City of Newport Academic Excellence Award and the Surface Navy Association Military Heritage Award. She is also a graduate of the Command Master Chief course, class 184. In April 2018, Master Chief Brittenum reported aboard Strike Fighter Squadron ONE THREE SEVEN, Lemoore, California and assumed the duties as Command Master Chief. She is currently assigned as the Command Master Chief of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Great lakes, IL. Her personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (six awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (four awards), and various campaign, personal, and unit citations.

Dr. Sharee Taylor, Associate Director for Facility Support

Dr. Sharee Taylor

Associate Director for Facility Support

Dr. Sharee Taylor, Ph.D., is the Associate Director for Facility Support of Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (Lovell FHCC). As the Associate Director for Facility Support, Dr. Taylor is responsible for the direction of administrative functions including Patient Administration, Facility Management, Logistics, Prosthetics, Police, Safety, Managed Care, Communications and Public Affairs, Education and Training, and Nutrition and Food Services. Dr. Sharee Taylor, a native of Miami, Florida, received her degree in Health Information Management from Florida A&M University, her Master’s in Public Administration from Troy State University, and her Ph.D. in Human Services from Capella University. Dr. Taylor comes to Lovell Federal Health Care Center with more than 15 years of experience in health care management. After establishing her career with various private sector hospitals in the state of Florida, she began her federal career as a Medical Records Technician/Outpatient Coder at James A. Haley Medical Center in Tampa, FL. Dr. Taylor participated in the HIM Technical Career Field National Internship Program with the Veterans Health Administration, where she spent time working at George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. After completing the program, she became the Assistant Chief, HIM at North Texas VA Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, where she successfully managed the HIM Service Line. She also was Chief, Health Information Manager at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Here, she built strong clinical and administrative relationships through analysis and evaluation of data relative to health care delivery systems and operations. Prior to coming to Lovell FHCC, Dr. Taylor was the Associate Director at the VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City, OR. where she executed and managed multi-million dollar operations.

Mr. Michael Simmons, Associate Director Nursing Practice/Senior VA Nurse Executive

Mr. Michael Simmons

Associate Director Nursing Practice/Senior VA Nurse Executive

Mr. Michael A. Simmons served as the acting Associate Director of Patient Care Services / Chief Nurse Executive at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in August 2020 and was permanently appointed in December 2020. Previously, Mr. Simmons held the position(s) of Deputy Nurse Executive and Acute Care Chief Nurse for VA Greater Los Angeles. Prior to, he worked at Jesse Brown VA, Hines VA and private sector facilities where he held various roles as nurse manager, case manager, clinical nurse educator, and staff nurse. His experience and specialties include Nursing Administration and Operations, Cardiac Stepdown, Hematology / Oncology, Case Management, and Medical Surgical Nursing. Michael earned a Master of Nursing in Executive Leadership from Benedictine University, a Bachelor of Nursing from Governors State University, an Associate of Nursing from Triton College and a Licensed Practical Nurse Diploma from Capital Area. Mr. Simmons holds specialty certifications as a Nurse Executive - Advanced, Medical Surgical Nurse, and Progressive Care Nursing. He is an active participant with the American Organization for Nursing Leadership and the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Commander Jeremy Pyles, Associate Director Resources

Commander Jeremy Pyles

Associate Director Resources

CDR Jeremy S. Pyles was born in Bradenton, Florida, and enlisted in the Navy in 1995. After basic training, Hospital Corps School, and Advanced Laboratory Technician School he was assigned to Naval Branch Health Clinic (NBHC), Key West, FL (1997-2000). While in Key West, he received his Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Saint Leo University and was commissioned an Ensign under the Medical Service Corps In-service Procurement Program. Upon completion of Officer Indoctrination School, CDR Pyles reported to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka. At Naval Hospital Yokosuka he served as the Assistant Department Head, Information Management/Information Technology (2000-2002) and Department Head, TRICARE Operations (2002-2003). During his tour in Yokosuka, he completed his Master of Science in Management from Troy University. He then transferred to Naval Recruiting District New Orleans, LA (2003-2006) and served as the Medical Programs Officer for the states of Louisiana and Arkansas. CDR Pyles was then selected and served as the Executive Assistant to the Naval Medical Inspector General, Bethesda, MD (2006-2009). In 2009, he reported back to NBHC Key West, this time as the Administrative Officer, and shortly thereafter deployed as an Individual Augmentee in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Following eight weeks of pre-deployment training at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, LA he completed a 12-month deployment as a member of a Medical Embedded Training Team responsible for providing mentorship and guidance to the Afghan National Police Surgeon General’s staff in Kabul, Afghanistan. Upon redeployment, he completed his tour at NBHC Key West in June 2011 and served two consecutive assignments as the Director for Administration for 3d Dental Battalion/U.S. Naval Dental Center Okinawa (2011-2014) and Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (2014-2017). He then completed a tour as the Officer-in-Charge for Naval Branch Health Clinic, Albany, GA (2017-2020). On August 25, 2020, he was appointed as the Director for Administration/Associate Director for Resources at the Captain James. A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, and currently serves in that roll. Personal decorations includes; Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with one star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with one star, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with three stars, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Good Conduct, National Defense, Fleet Marine Force, and Various other service and unit awards.

Ms. Kathleen Kennedy, Assistant Director, Plans and Operations

Ms. Kathleen Kennedy

Assistant Director, Plans and Operations

Ms. Kathleen Kennedy was appointed Assistant Director, Plans and Operations, of the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC), in February 2020. In this role she has direct full-line authority and responsibility for Strategic Planning, Voluntary Service, Communications, Emergency Management, Patient Advocate/Customer Service, Staff Experience and Pastoral Services. Ms. Kennedy also has oversight, and provides operational support to the Veteran Canteen Service. Ms. Kennedy has managed the implementation of the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Supply system at the FHCC since May 2018 and continues these responsibilities of supply chain modernization in her new role. Ms. Kennedy serves as the primary liaison for the FHCC Advisory Board, managing communications and strategic initiatives with stakeholders from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 12, the Department of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, and the Defense Health Agency. Ms. Kennedy is a member of the Shared Resources Working Group, representing the field for VHA. Ms. Kennedy is certified in Change Management through the National Center for Organizational Development (NCOD) Prosci model. Prior to becoming the Assistant Director at the FHCC, Ms. Kennedy served as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Undersecretary for Healthcare Operations and Management. She served two years as the Executive Assistant to the Network Director in VISN 12 and has completed two rotations at VA Central Office. Ms. Kennedy earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY and a Master’s in Health Care Administration from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Ms. Kennedy began her career in the VA as an administrative fellow at the FHCC. Ms. Kennedy received a commendation from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2017 for her leadership in the initiative to provide emergency mental health care services to Veterans with an Other Than Honorable discharge.