Deborah Proctor, MD, was presented with the 2023 William. J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award by the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.
The William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award is presented annually to a veteran of the United States Armed Forces who has shown a selfless commitment to community and public service.
"I am thrilled and honored to receive this award, but this was a team effort, and I really accepted the award on behalf of everybody, because this is not something that one person can do by themselves,” she said humbly.
Proctor is the founder of Honduras Children’s Project, a non-profit organization she started with the aim of helping children in the country of Honduras. Their mission is to improve the education for the children of COPPROME Orphanage in El Progreso, Honduras, by providing them with an educational after-school program and supporting the public elementary school they attend.
She credits her two sons and husband for being unsung heroes, along with the board members, volunteers and donors, and staff in Honduras.
She has dedicated her life to helping others—professionally and personally. Proctor, professor of medicine (digestive diseases) and medical director of the Yale Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program, served active duty in the U.S. Navy for four years, followed by five years of reserves. She was commissioned as a General Medical Officer, entering the military after she completed her medical degree from University of Cincinnati in 1982, and spent most of her time in Virginia Beach.
Reflecting back on her military career, Proctor appreciates the many values instilled in her–specifically the work ethic. “The work ethic is very strong and ingrained in people in the military. People carry that work ethic going forward,” Proctor said.
“There's a culture in the military, which is very much having a can-do attitude. That really became deeply ingrained in me and was very helpful throughout the rest of my life.”
She recalls how, when she practiced at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, patients would respond after hearing that she, too, was a veteran.
“Their faces would just light up. You are part of the group. That's the real feeling. When you join, you belong. You sign up for a reason—that's to protect and defend the constitution and what our country stands for.”
Since forming one of the nation’s first sections of hepatology more than 75 years ago and then gastroenterology nearly 70 years ago, Yale School of Medicine’s Section of Digestive Diseases has had an enduring impact on research and clinical care in gastrointestinal and liver disorders. To learn more about their work, visit Digestive Diseases.