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Gen. Mattis to award area doctor prestigious award at Richland ceremony

RICHLAND, Wash. — U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is coming to town to award the highest honorary award our nation's defense department gives to civilians.

The Richland native will present Dr. Lewis Zirkle with the Department of Defense's Medal for Distinguished Service in a private ceremony on Feb. 26.

Dr. Zirkle pioneered a method of treating fractures that gets patients home and back to work in a few weeks... an event that could otherwise have the patient and their family spiraling into multiple generations of poverty.

In 1999 he formed SIGN Fracture Care International in Richland, a foundation educating surgeons in developing countries how to perform the procedure without expensive X-ray machines, or even electricity.

Zirkle said he's humbled that someone of such a high rank is flying out to present him, and his team, with such an honor.

"And," he added. "Humbled by the fact that they understood our vision of creating a quality of fracture care. And that they understand that this pertains to both the military and civilians."

Over the years, SIGN surgeons have healed more than 210k patients in 50 countries.

Dr. Zirkle said SIGN is always accepting donations to further their work; through Feb. 14 an anonymous donor is matching donations; you can contribute here.

To learn more about Dr. Lewis Zirkle, his book We walk the World: A Journey of Healing is available on Amazon, with all proceeds going toward SIGN Fracture Care International.

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