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Veterans Continue Their Service to Others at Ozarks Medical Center, Part 3 of 9

Veterans Continue Their Service at Ozarks Medical Center

Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) is a system of care encompassing a 114-bed acute care hospital, 8 primary care and 15 specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation and home care services. OMC is a not-for-profit medical referral center with over 1100 employees, serving an 8-county area in south central Missouri and north central Arkansas. OMC would like to recognize a few of our veterans that came forward to be interviewed. We appreciate all that they have done for our country and applaud all veterans for their service.

Part 3 of 9.

Michelle Dillard, Case Manager, OMC Behavioral Health Care

Michelle Dillard, a case manager at Ozarks Medical Center Behavioral Health Care, has spent the last 30 years in the reserves: 19 years with the Army Reserves, and the last 11 years with the Air Force Reserves, which she is currently a member, stationed out of Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Dillard has traveled abroad to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Turkey, Romania, Germany, Guatemala, Korea, Belize, and Egypt, just to name a few, and has worked deployments stateside including border patrol in Texas and a remodeling project at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin.

During her time with the Army, she was part of a construction crew. Her deployments mostly consisted of humanitarian missions to build schools. It was during a deployment to Guatemala that Dillard says had the most profound impact on her. It was on their second day in Guatemala when there was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. “We went to a hospital to help. It was the saddest thing I have ever seen. Cribs held four babies. They were making casts for the injured out of cardboard and duct tape. For our mission, we had brought things to distribute like coloring books and crayons. The only thing the kids really wanted was water. We spent most of our mission rebuilding the hospital. Once we finally got to our real job of building a new school, we worked just a few days before our mission ended. But during those few days, there was a lady who lived in a very run down shack next door. Every day, she would bring us food, tortillas and fried bananas, just because she was so grateful that we were there,” Dillard said.

Dillard acknowledges that the most useful skill that has come from her military experience is the ability to work with such a diverse group of people. “You don’t take things for granted. You see the other side of the spectrum,” she said. This quality is one that she uses in her everyday life on the job. As a case manager, she visits her clients in their homes. She works with them on coping skills, anger management, shopping skills, healthy eating habits, and personal hygiene. “I never look down on my clients. I know that they are doing the best that they can. I enjoy working with them and helping them make a difference in their quality of life,” Dillard said.

Dillard and husband Jeff have four children. The two older ones have already followed in mom’s footsteps of service. Daughters Jonnie, 27, is a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Springfield; and Jamie, 21, is in the Coast Guard. Jenna, 11; and Justin, 9; attend school in Mammoth Spring.

Dillard says she was a rebellious teenager who planned to marry right out of high school. She was talked into signing up for the military as a way to pay for her and her future husband’s education. The marriage didn’t happen, and the education was put off until eleven years ago. Now with five degrees includingPsychology, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Elementary Education, and Child and Family Development, Dillard doesn’t regret her decision to serve her country. “The military gave me a sense of pride in myself and taught me how to be responsible. It changed my life, and I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to serve my country for so many years. My family has been very supportive and I could not have done this without them.”

OMC Behavioral Health Care offers efficient and effective mental health services to children and adults including individual, couples and family counseling. In addition, BHC provides psychological testing and evaluation, case management and medication services to help reduce the severity and duration of mental health disorders. Our team of psychiatrist, psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioner, nurses and counselors provide convenient, comprehensive care to keep our community mentally healthy.

Michelle Dillard, Afghanistan, 2008

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