Naval Medical Forces Pacific honors Sailor for 29 years of service

US Navy | 2022-03-18

By Grady Fontana

SAN DIEGO, CA.: On a picturesque morning, overlooking the cityscape across the San Diego Bay, friends, family and service members gathered at the Admiral Kidd Catering and Conference Center, Naval Base Point Loma, Harbor Drive Annex, San Diego, to bear witness and celebrate Naval Medical Forces Pacific’s deputy commander during a retirement ceremony, March 15.

Captain Kimberly A. Zuzelski officially donned her Navy uniform for the last time, as she marked the next chapter of her life as a retired Naval Officer—a significant milestone that encompassed 29 years of service to the Nation.

Though the course of a military career is presented with successes and challenges, she described the past 29 years as “phenomenal,” and reflected on what she’ll miss the most about Navy Medicine – Sailors.

“The past 29 years have truly been about the people,” said Zuzelski, a Medical Service Corps Officer and dietician by specialty. “There are many things that I will miss. The people who make up Navy Medicine are phenomenal at every level, from the most junior Sailor looking to better themselves and contribute to such a worthy mission, to the most senior leaders who strive to develop them, while ensuring our warfighters have the support they need to project the power of Navy Medicine.”

Zuzelski is originally from Detroit, but spent most of her school years in Colorado where she completed her undergraduate degree in dietetics at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

She commissioned as an ensign in July 1994 through the Healthcare Scholarship Collegiate Program.

Rear Adm. Tim Weber, commander, Naval Medical Forces Pacific, spoke as the event’s presiding officer and highlighted Zuzelski’s career and contributions as his deputy commander.

“Captain Zuzleski has been a leader in every organization the Navy has taken her, consistently going above and beyond…there are few in Navy Medicine that have the depth and breadth of experience and knowledge in both clinical and executive leadership,” said Weber. “Given her vast experience and intellect, no one was happier for her to arrive to NavMedForPac than me as she embodied professional expertise, initiative, organizational excellence, and selfless dedication to the mission that was required over the last two years.”

Although Zuzelski can point to many highlights over her career, she relayed that the defining moment was tied to a combat deployment.

“Every assignment brings powerful memories, whether tied to the friends made, family events, career milestones, or the location itself; however, I would have to say that my deployment to the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan, was the most career defining for me, as we executed Navy Medicine’s mission right there every single day,” said Zuzelski. “It put what readiness really means in perspective for me, and I was in awe of what Navy Medicine and our warfighters do in service to our country.”

As a parting bit of advice to juniors and budding leaders, Zuzelski offered her wisdom for those marching her footpath.

“Be a sponge and have an open mind. Use all your senses to learn, ask questions, and grow personally and professionally,” she said. “Help others to do the same. Every assignment has lessons to be learned that can be applied in the future, even when you can’t see it at the time. Spend time getting to know yourself, seek mentors, and ask for feedback from others.”

She also emphasized the importance of influencers and mentors as they can serve as an example to emulate, and a trusted sounding board.

“I’ve had several (mentors) who may not even realize how much they influenced me,” said Zuzelski. “They paved the way for me to succeed through their guidance, and shared mistakes they made it so I wouldn’t do the same. They celebrated successes with me, and were also there to support me and remind me I was only human when I made mistakes or failed at something I tried.”

It’s a common phrase that the sun never sets on Naval Medical Forces Pacific as this command oversees Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Commands and medical research and development labs across the globe. For Captain Zuzelski, the sun did set on an impressive career of a respected shipmate.

“I leave here with extreme gratitude for the opportunities, lessons learned, and people I had the privilege to meet and work with on a daily basis,” said Kim Zuzelski.

Naval Medical Forces Pacific provides oversight for 10 Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Commands, on the West Coast and Pacific Rim that train, man, and equip medical forces, primarily in military treatment facilities. NMFP also oversees eight research laboratories that deliver cutting edge health and medical research to enhance the deployment readiness and survivability of our Joint Forces.