International Red Cross Medal awarded to Team Yokota nurse

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Capt. Brandi Branch, 374th Obstetrics and Gynecology Outpatient Clinic flight commander, is one of only 37 people from 22 countries that received the Florence Nightingale Medal this year from the International Red Cross–the highest recognition of medical service a nurse can be awarded for extraordinary courage, devotion, service, and spirit to care for those in need.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) bestows the prestigious award bi-annually to exceptionally-qualified nurses and voluntary nursing aides around the world who have distinguished themselves in times of peace or war.

“I was surprised to find out I received it during a medical group meeting one morning,” Branch said. “I told myself that I’m just an OGBYN nurse, that I was nobody special and didn’t deserve it–imposter syndrome, you know? Looking back now, I’m glad my leadership at the time saw what I've managed to accomplish as a registered nurse with the U.S. Air Force and recommended me for this honor.”

The award is named after British nurse Florence Nightingale, known as the founder of modern nursing, who was a pioneer and innovator in hygiene, sanitation, and statistical analysis, as well as an accomplished writer. Her works helped elevate the field of nursing while educating others who would go on to save many lives.

Medal recipients are considered for a myriad of accomplishments, to include:
●  Exceptional courage and devotion to the wounded, sick or disabled or to civilian victims of a conflict or disaster.
●  Exemplary services or a creative and pioneering spirit in the areas of public health or nursing education.

Branch has served the medical field for more than 15 years, and spent her first 14 as a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman. During that period, she worked with the Red Crescent in Afghanistan to identify next of kin for patients who lost their lives in Tarin Kowt.

“When I sit and write out all the things I’ve done, I realize that I’ve touched many lives and accomplished some amazing things around the world,” Branch said. “I’m grateful for this recognition, because it shows that others have seen in me what I did not.”

Branch became a U.S. Air Force medical officer in 2015 and made her way to Yokota Air Base, Japan, where she taught Emergencies in Clinical Obstetrics and Fetal Heart Monitoring courses and led the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) training program to prepare medics with elevated first-aid skills and core trauma skills. She also served as an expert Sexual Assault Medical Forensics Examiner with the distinction of lead trainer for all Military Treatment Facilities in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Helping people comes naturally to me, I want to help whenever and wherever I can, it's the pure reason I pursued nursing in the first place,” Branch said. “This profession teaches you to relate to others, to treat the person and not the problem–a lesson that took me a long time to internalize. I feel like I got this award for being my true self, learning my limits, and continuing to learn everyday. I’m humbled and have gratitude for it … It's just that simple for me.”