Native Western Massachusetts Guardsman Nurse to Serve Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 104th Fighter Wing
The Springfield Armory, a National Historical site where the US Armed Forces and American industry looked for innovative engineering and superior firearms, was the backdrop during one of Springfield, Massachusetts own natives' promotion ceremony. The Massachusetts Air National Guard and 104th Fighter Wing honored the local Guardsman as the newest Brigadier General with a very fitting ceremony as members of the community attended. Brigadier General Sean T. Collins who served at the 104th FW for over 20 years has been selected as the Assistant for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs.

"When I was asked to be here I said of course, he is a native son and when you look at the tradition of his family in this city it is an honor," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. "His great grandfather served as a Springfield Policeman. His Dad served as medical director at the Springfield Municipal hospital. Brig Gen. Collins was born and raised attending school in Western Massachusetts where he serves his community and is a leader."

In General Collins' new role he will be a principle advisor to the Director of Health Affairs on Reserve Component matters for both National Guard and Reserve units. This is a joint appointment, serving as an integrated Combat Support Agency that enables the Army, Navy, and Air Force medical services to provide a medically ready force to Combatant Commands in both peacetime and wartime. The Reserve Component constitutes over one million military members.

"I know in this new position as you have done in the past, it's always been your trademark, you will set the benchmark," said Maj. Gen. Gary W. Keefe, The Adjutant General of Massachusetts National Guard. "I'm really happy and honored to be here to promote you as General."

During his four combat tours, he has received multiple awards and recognition, serving with distinction. In 2011, he deployed as a senior researcher for the Joint Combat Casualty Research Team in Afghanistan, providing theater wide support to vital research activities while in Helmand Province.

"Collins mentors several people in every area of his life and gives back to his community continuously," said Keefe. "I am happy for the Collins family who has a long and rich military career. Great officer, great Airmen, and truly a great friend."

Prior to his new assignment Collins served as the Commander of the 104th Medical Group, Barnes ANGB for eleven years. He was responsible for the health and wellbeing for more than 1,200 military members assigned to the Wing as well as more than 60 assigned medical personnel. He entered the Air Force in 1995 after being commissioned as a first lieutenant in the 104th Medical Squadron.

"The enlisted core is the one who gets the work done and you have to listen to," said Collins. "I was fortunate at the 104th for an outstanding enlisted force. It's because of the enlisted core I am here today."

Collins is a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner licensed in the state of Massachusetts and Connecticut. In his civilian career he is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, with a joint appointment in medicine and the graduate School of Nursing. He also holds a clinical appointment in the diabetes center for excellence at University of Massachusetts Medical Center. He serves as President of a long standing family business, a local manufacturing plant, employing nearly 100 employees with a worldwide presence.

"I am from a hard working family," said Collins. "My father as a residence medical director was up at three in the morning doing rounds. I scratch my head when he says I am working too hard. I am blessed to have my parents here today. I have a photo of my dad pumping gas in my office. He did this job to get through school at George Town in 1916."

During the ceremony Collins shared an excerpt from the President Theodore Roosevelt's speech The Man in the Arena. "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause."

Collins has authored several scholarly publication journal articles and a book chapter. He has taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels at local colleges and universities. General Collins earned his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. He also teaches at UMass Amherst in the DNP program and has been involved in the development of Veterans Healthcare curriculum. He has a keen interest in chronic illness.