In a ceremony filled with family, friends and colleagues from UC’s Department of Surgery, UC Health University Hospital and the United States Air Force, UC trauma surgeon Col. Warren Dorlac, MD, retired from the Air Force after 26 1/2 years of service Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011.
Dorlac is the director of the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS) at University Hospital and a volunteer associate professor of surgery. He will assume the role of associate professor of surgery and will volunteer with the C-STARS program.
In the ceremony, presided over by Lt. Gen. Paul K. Carlton Jr., USAF, Retired Air Force Surgeon General, Dorlac was recognized for his service to improve trauma care in the U.S. and internationally.
Carlton recalled his first meeting with Dorlac in 1992 at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio—when Carlton was "the old guy taking trauma call” and Dorlac was a third-year resident.
Since then, Carlton said, he has seen Dorlac and his wife, UC Health critical care and pulmonary physician Gina Dorlac, MD, improve the delivery and knowledge of trauma care in the military.
"As we stand here, I’m honestly a bit sad because Warren and Gina are taking off the uniform for real,” said Carlton, "but I’m also happy, because the changes they’ve made have been so significant. And it won’t stop, because the university setting provides the atmosphere for us to continue to push the envelope and figure out how to save the next series of wartime injuries.”
Dorlac has spent most of his military and medical career working alongside his wife, who retired from the Air Force in 2009 after 20 years of service. From 2004 to 2007, they worked at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where Warren Dorlac served as chief of trauma and critical care and then trauma medical director.
Carlton said the Dorlacs saved countless patients during their time heading Landstuhl—often overseeing "remarkably painful stories” that resulted in remarkably successful outcomes.
The Dorlacs also worked together as the first medical exchange officers to the Chilean Air Force, where they developed a Chilean Combat Casualty Care Course, now in its ninth year.
At UC, Warren Dorlac has served since 2007 as director of the C-STARS program, one of three centers in the country conducting pre-deployment training of Air Force medical personnel. Under his leadership, C-STARS expanded its teaching cadre, the number of Critical Care Air Transport Teams trained annually and research projects in aeromedical evacuation.
In 2009, he deployed as the Central Command’s Joint Theater Trauma System Director, overseeing trauma care in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently serves as the trauma consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General.
At the retirement event, Dorlac was awarded the Legion of Merit medal and a letter of appreciation from President Barack Obama.
Dorlac credited the partnerships he and his wife made in the Air Force and abroad and Air Force leadership for much of his success, telling the crowd that, "without all of you, none of this would have been possible.”