USARIEM says farewell to Sue McGraw after 32 years of combined service
Some people bounce around from job to job throughout their careers, but not Sue McGraw – not really. McGraw first stepped foot in the labs of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine as a student researcher, studying nutrition. She spent two years with the USARIEM team before graduating from Framingham State College with a Bachelor of Science in food and nutrition before moving on. Or tried to, at least. She took a job in Boston for about a year before returning to USARIEM as a contractor employee in the Military Nutrition Division. There she spent the next six years as a research nutritionist before transitioning to federal service where she spent the past 24 years. Now, after 32 years of combined service, she is saying farewell as she heads into retirement.
"I started off a visual estimator and recipe specialist and took on other tasks such as exercise monitor and performing body composition testing as needed," explains McGraw. "I now mainly design surveys, scan and analyze them and create the database for the data, among other responsibilities."
During her time with USARIEM, McGraw's expertise in diet assessment, nutrient analysis, body composition assessment, and survey development and analysis positively affected nearly every major research study within the MND. She was a key player in the successful completion of various efforts, most notably the development and validation of the Military Eating Behavior Survey. A survey, which is used throughout the Department of Defense, to assess eating behaviors and mediators of eating behaviors of Warfighters, and a project that she holds dear.
"I can honestly say that Sue has been the fabric of our division. She's the one that brings us all together. She contributes to basically every single project that we conduct," said Dr. James McClung, USARIEM's MND chief. "Her work ethic and attention to detail assured our success every step of the way. She was part of studies that resulted in foundational scientific discoveries. A lot of what she did resulted in improvements in the way of life that affect every Soldier, every day."
As accomplished as she was within the MND, McGraw's experience and expertise could not be contained.
The other USARIEM research divisions often sought after her. Most recently, McGraw was recruited for an effort on behalf of the Sergeant Major of the Army to assess U.S. Army body composition standards, the Army Comprehensive Body Composition study. The ACBC study is the largest, most modern, and comprehensive demographic assessment of Soldier body size, composition and fitness and health. The ACBC will provide an accurate representative assessment of the current Army population.
McGraw collaborated with various research team members during the study planning and execution, as well as throughout the analysis and report writing phases over the years. She is well known for her willingness to support field research efforts on temporary duty assignment. In fact, most of her most memorable moments occurred while on TDY.
In 1990, she travelled to Quantico to support the "Baseline Dietary Assessment of the US Marine Corps Officer Candidate School Students for the Performance Nutrition Intervention Project." It was her first TDY as a student researcher. She was the visual estimator to determine nutrition intake.
"In 1994, I travelled to Camp Pendleton and the Chocolate Mountain Ariel Gunnery Range to assess field feeding systems in an extreme desert environment," McGraw reflects on her time in Calipatria, California. "I got the opportunity to shoot a howitzer and ride in their Humvees to take action photographs of their training."
Ever experience Hell-Week with the Navy SEALs? McGraw did in 1995. She travelled to San Diego to work with the Navy SEAL candidates during their Hell-Week. She oversaw the cognitive testing.
Then off to the Bahamas. In 1998, she found herself in Great Inagua to study the "Effects of Tray Ration Consumption During a 63-Day Marine Field Exercise." She was the visual estimator for the study that tested two types of rations for the Marines while they were supporting the Bahamian Task Force.
Those are just some of her favorites. She has fond memories of TDYs in Alaska, Hawaii, Africa and Norway. But there are just too many to share them all.
McGraw has supported over 127 studies, with well over 99 TDYs to her name.
Besides her contributions to USARIEM's research efforts, she consistently provided support to Officers within the Army-Baylor University Master's Program in Nutrition during the completion of their thesis projects.
"People are the strength of the Army, the strength of our organization — the Civilian and Military. In an organization like USARIEM, the Civilian people matter so much," said Col. Michael Cohen, USARIEM commander. "I wanted to thank you for the time that you have been here. It has been very impressive. I appreciate your commitment to the Army, the military, to USARIEM and the things you have done here."
Going into her retirement, it should come as no surprise that McGraw plans to travel. She just has to wait for her husband John to join her in retirement in less than a year.
"We want to see many National Parks, so we will start our adventure with a trip down Route 66 next spring/summer," said McGraw. "My whole family rides motorcycles, so we will take day trips."
While on the road, she plans to visit her sisters in Ohio and Georgia. She also has plans to stop in Colorado to visit her stepson, John (JW), his wife, Jessica, and her two granddaughters, Brook and Harper.
Back here on the East Coast, she plans to spend more time with her daughter, Christy, and her son, Tim.
If all that travelling and visiting doesn't keep her busy enough, she has projects around the house planned and lots of gardening to do.