CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. –
A physical therapist assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Camp Lejeune is named Navy Medicine’s Senior Physical Therapy Officer of the Year for 2023.
Lt. Cmdr. Laura Riebel, a native of Fairfax, Virginia, was awarded the recognition designated for Medical Service Corps officers. The award recognizes compassion, accountability, professionalism, and leadership within medical and subspecialty fields of Navy Medicine.
“I've always tried to be very involved in the command with different actions that are taking place both within my role and through different collaterals as well. I also as serve different positions outside of my command,” said Riebel, who serves as the department head for Rehabilitation Services at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune.
Riebel serves as the Federal Section of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Program Executive where she selects different presentations on work and research done in the military and Veteran’s Affairs to showcase at their annual conference each year.
“Lt. Cmdr. Riebel’s robust involvement in multiple Navy Medicine collaterals, have far-reaching impact throughout the Medical Service Corps and serve to strengthen our tri-service partnership in the Defense Health Agency,” Captain Kevin Brown, Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune director and Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command commander, said in his recommendation letter.
Riebel’s commended work can be tracked back to her last command, Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, where she was the assistant clinical director for the medical clinic. She proposed ideas for how to incorporate faster recovery for patients that were on a medical hold by changing some of the programming they were doing in the physical rehabilitation clinics. Riebel also proposed how to get recruits who were recovering from their injuries to pass their fitness tests by allowing them to do alternative cardio, which up until then was not allowed.
“Lieutenant Commander Riebel’s accomplishments while collaborating with RTC will have lasting effects on the fleet,” said Brown. “She singlehandedly proposed three initiatives on methods to reduce attrition and overuse injuries at boot camp. All three garnered overwhelming support and were implemented.”
The work of Riebel and her staff impacts approximately 40,000 beneficiaries through a variety of sub-clinics like physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
“I became a physical therapist because I love human anatomy and physiology and the concept that when moving the correct ways, our bodies can do so much to heal ourselves,” said Riebel. “I’m so honored to be a part of the Navy PT community, providing these services to our service-members and beneficiaries around the globe that have a lasting impact on our patients’ quality of life every day.”
Next up for Riebel and the PT staff of NMCCL are preparations for the new Warfighter Readiness and Rehabilitation Center located at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. The new center will expand PT staffing and capabilities for active duty and TRICARE beneficiaries.