Newswise — Bethesda, Md. – Dr. Norman M. Rich, professor and chair emeritus of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) Department of Surgery, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his many significant contributions to military medicine.

AMSUS is the Society of Federal Health Professionals and is a non-profit member-based educational and professional development association serving the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, federal health professionals and their families, industry partners and advocates for advancing health for all — especially through interagency collaboration. The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Rich during the AMSUS Annual Meeting on February 10, 2022, at the Gaylord National Harbor.  

A vascular surgeon and retired Army colonel, Rich founded the USU Department of Surgery, where he served as a professor from 1976 to 1999. In 1999, he was named the Leonard Heaton and David Packard Professor of Surgery, and stepped down as chair in 2012, continuing to serve as Senior Advisor to the Chairman until 2018. Rich retired in 2018 after more than 50 years of service to the military and federal government. 

“I am honored by the recognition of our combined effort to support and improve military medicine and surgery,” Rich said.

Throughout his career, Rich made a tremendous impact on both military medicine and surgery and medicine and surgery at large. In 1966, he developed the Vietnam Vascular Registry based on cases he had seen while serving in Vietnam, along with hundreds of other cases added by colleagues. The registry sought to document and analyze all blood vessel injuries in Vietnam, and to obtain long-term follow-up information about patients who sustained those injuries, which resulted in documenting more than 10,000 injuries from about 7,500 American casualties in Southeast Asia. He maintained the registry for nearly five decades. This effort laid the foundation for many of today’s modern military and civilian trauma registries. 

A variety of articles were later published from the trauma registry, outlining these injuries, and in 1978, the first edition of Vascular Trauma by Rich and Frank C. Spencer was published – a textbook providing additional reports from the registry, as well as reports from experiences during the Korean War.  Two more editions have been published since, one in 2004 co-authored by Rich, Kenneth Mattox and Asher Hirshberg, and another in 2015, Rich’s Vascular Trauma, co-edited by Dr. Todd Rasmussen and Nigel R.M. Tai, and sponsored by the Society for Vascular Surgery. Each textbook has continued to offer the latest information on the treatment and management of vascular injuries to include perspectives from several other renowned surgeons across the globe.

Rich earned both his undergraduate degree and medical degree from Stanford University, graduating from Stanford’s Medical School in 1960.  After completing his surgical residency in 1965, he was commissioned in the Army and became one of only a few Army officers assigned to Vietnam. He served as chief of surgery at the 2nd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Division, which consisted of 500 helicopters and thousands of Soldiers.  In 1966, he returned to Walter Reed and helped train general surgeons and vascular fellows who were heading to Vietnam. While there, he also conducted research focusing on the repair of lower extremity veins, which had not been well-studied at the time. There, he also led the Vascular fellowship program, and later served as a vascular surgery consultant to the Army Surgeon General from 1970 to 1982.

He retired from active duty in 1980, continuing to serve as USU surgery chair, and director of the Vascular Registry. In October 2002, then-USU president James A. ZImble named the department in Rich’s honor: the Norman M. Rich Department of Surgery.  In 2020, the Norman M. Rich Professor of Surgery chair was established in his name.  

Among his numerous achievements, Rich has also received many honorary appointments and degrees from institutions worldwide, and has received countless prestigious awards, both during his time in service and as a civilian. Among them, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Eastern Vascular Society, the DeBakey Award from the Michael E. DeBakey International Surgical Society, a Masters Medal from the Apothecaries of London, and a Founders Award from the American Venous Forum.  

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About the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences: The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, founded by an act of Congress in 1972, is the nation’s federal health sciences university and the academic heart of the Military Health System. USU students are primarily active-duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service who receive specialized education in tropical and infectious diseases, TBI and PTSD, disaster response and humanitarian assistance, global health, and acute trauma care. USU also has graduate programs in oral biology, biomedical sciences and public health committed to excellence in research. The University's research program covers a wide range of areas important to both the military and public health. For more information about USU and its programs, visit