Veteran Pat Walsh finds purpose, direction, and motivation with whole health
At dawn and dusk, Pat Walsh looks up at the sky to put his daily stressors and accomplishments into perspective. It's a habit he formed during his 28-year military career in the U.S. Army. Whether he was in Berlin, Afghanistan, or Washington D.C., and even when working a 24-hour shift, he could find a moment to appreciate the temporal effect of the sunrise and sunset.
While he no longer faces life-threatening situations at work, he continues to practice mindfulness as part of his health and wellness journey. In his role as account manager for military health at Leidos, Walsh supports active military, veterans and their families by building tools and systems to support their whole health and human performance.
"I look at purpose, direction, and motivation daily," Walsh says. "I use those three words as a compass."
Walsh aims to help individuals, leaders, and organizations understand wellness and prevention for the military community. He is deeply connected to this purpose through his experience recovering from spine and brain injuries, as well as post-traumatic stress caused by blasts from improvised explosive devices and falling out of a helicopter.
Throughout his career, Walsh has done everything from operating to teaching to working on intelligence in the Pentagon. He’s also deployed to five different continents. As a U.S. Army colonel, Walsh oversaw comprehensive soldier fitness, the Army Suicide Prevention Program, and the Army Substance Abuse Program. Now, he continues to serve, but as a civilian using data, research, and expertise to develop solutions for the health and readiness of military personnel and their families.
, Military Health Account Manager
I think being a veteran and serving is a privilege and an obligation," Walsh says. "Because once you raise your hand, you've been given that privilege, and then once you transition, you have an obligation to carry that on.
Balance is key
Currently, Walsh works on challenges such as culling data from electronic health records and wearable activity trackers and building algorithms to identify indicators of underlying issues and provide early warning signs. These insights, combined with professional counseling, can help raise awareness about underlying conditions and prevent health crises.
His role requires a combination of technical abilities and leadership qualities. Above all else, Walsh's experience helps him understand the connections between health and the physical and mental pressure that veterans face. Walsh advocates for hiring veterans because of attributes that don't appear on a resume, such as grit and resiliency, which impact the real world.
Walsh feels his work aligns with Leidos' mission to make the world safer, healthier, and more efficient through technology, engineering, and science. Additionally, he explains that his transition from the Army to a civilian career allows him to continue making a difference in "Total Force Fitness," the U.S. Department of Defense's concept of caring for your mind and body.
"You've got to have balance in mind, body, and soul," he says. "You can't be physically healthy, as well as mentally, spiritually, and ideologically strong if you don't have balance. And health is not only for yourself but what you can do for others."
In the future, Walsh sees healthcare heading toward a prevention model that uses data and personalization to help people optimize their health and performance. In the meantime, he will continue to educate and inform people about wellness and prevention among veterans.
Each day at sunset, Walsh reflects on how much he accomplished while the Earth rotated away from the Sun in 24 hours. And he thinks about how much he will continue to achieve for the community in the days ahead.
"If you think about what difference you can make over time, you can move forward," he says.