Tribe's health director recalled to active duty
Ron J. MacLaren resigned Monday as health director of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), effective March 19.
A rear admiral in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Mr. MacLaren has been recalled to active duty for two to three years and assigned to the Defense Logistics Agency at Fort Belvoir, Va., about 20 miles south of Washington, D.C. He will serve as the director of the Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office, a new department which he will create and staff.
The department's purpose is to create teams of contracting professionals capable of going anywhere in the world to work in support of combat operations, post-conflict operations, and/or contingency operations, Mr. MacLaren explained in an email to The Times on Tuesday. The U.S. currently is conducting contingency operations in Haiti, for example.
Mr. MacLaren said he finds it bittersweet to leave the Island and head to "America." "As a reserve officer, I know my job is to answer the call when it comes," he said. "It's what I've been trained to do," he wrote. "It is a fantastic opportunity to serve this great country of ours."
In November 2007, Mr. MacLaren also "answered the call" when he was mobilized for active duty and deployed for eight months to Kuwait. During that tour he served as commander of the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Forward GOLF to assist the U.S. Army in a shore-type mission to provide customs and cargo handling.
Mr. MacLaren has served in the U.S. Navy and as a reservist for more than 30 years. He was commissioned through Navy ROTC and served in the regular Navy from 1979 to 1983, before joining the reserves.
After retiring from active duty, he worked in the health care administrative field. He and his wife, Terrie, moved to Martha's Vineyard in 2004 from Houston, Tex. As Mr. MacLaren recalled, they arrived in November that year in time "to enjoy one of the worst winter snowfalls that the Island has experienced in 30 years."
Mr. MacLaren began his job as the tribe's health director in February 2006. Last fall he acted as the spokesman for the Martha's Vineyard Public Health Coalition in Island-wide planning efforts for a possible H1N1 (swine) flu epidemic and coordinating H1N1 and seasonal flu inoculation clinics.
Ms. MacLaren, a registered dietitian, provides services to the tribe, as well as to the Head Start program, for Martha's Vineyard Community Services. Mr. MacLaren said she would finish up her commitments on the Island and move to Virginia, once they have a definite timeline for housing. "However, we are not leaving for good," he assured in his email. "We like to think of it as a sabbatical. Once my assignment is complete, we plan on returning to our home on Island."
"I thank everyone for their well wishes and support, not just for me but for all the superb men and women that are serving," Mr. MacLaren added. "We look forward to returning and getting a Grace Episcopal Church lobster roll in the summer. Save me one."