The classic expression for meals on a monumental scale is planning “enough to feed an army.” It’s a challenge that Colonel Lorraine Rupp Breen, in effect, faces daily—and simply takes it all in stride. Her stride, in fact, has not only covered the United States from coast to coast—but has taken her around the world.
Lorraine had stepped right out as a Nutrition and Dietetics magna cum laude graduate, following the advice of her insightful advisor, Betty Murphy. She had gift, Lorraine says, for spotting a student’s special talents within the field. “She advised me to focus on clinical dietetics,” Lorraine recalls. “She predicted I’d find my career niche in management and administration. She was right.”
Lorraine began working for ABA Air Serve, a national contract food company that serviced Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, New York. A year later, she married her husband, Richard, an Army officer and University of Scranton ROTC graduate, who was sent to his first post in Seattle, Washington. When Lorraine moved with him, she transferred within ABA operations. She did so again, as they crisscrossed the country to Georgia...and South Carolina. When Richard was transferred to Germany, Lorraine stepped up to a new challenge: teaching college credit food service courses at the base education center. By the time Richard was transferred back to the US—this time, Denver—Lorraine decided since she spent so much time working for and traveling with the Army, she might as well BE in the Army. She was commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserve—a move that enabled her to take her talents into two worlds—serving part time with the Army; full time as Food Services Director at the University of Colorado. Several transfers later, Richard headed for Korea, and Lorraine transferred to active duty status to go with him. There, as Assistant Chief of the Nutrition Care Division for the 121st General Hospital at Yongsan Army Garrison, she jumped right in to become involved with international dietetic operations, in 1995 presenting a seminar to members of the Korean Dietetic Association in Seoul. She also completed a masters’s degree in Human Resource Management through Chapman University.
Another transfer or so, brought the Breens back Washington, DC, where she was assigned as Director of Food and Nutrition at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and was also made Battalion Commander in charge of the southeastern region, which covers states from North Carolina through Florida and Puerto Rico. Promoted to Colonel, she was selected to attend the Army’s premier education program: the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Ft. McNair, where she earned her second master’s degree in national resources management—and she was off again to Vincenza, Italy as Commander of the Army Health Center—the primary health care facility for servicemembers and their families. Upon her return to the US, her name was put forward as Chief of Staff for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs—a post she has held since 2010.
Today, Colonel Lorraine Breen is still helping to “feed an army”—and their families—and people around the world—nutritiously, healthfully, efficiently. “My Marywood education,” she says, “taught me to plan... to execute a mission as well as I could. She has executed her mission superbly and has done her alma mater proud through her life of service—above and beyond the call of duty. We proudly recognize her achievements by honoring her with the Award of Excellence in Health and Human Services for 2013.
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