On November 17, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2022 Health and Human Services Hero Awards to recognize individuals who are making a bold difference right here in the Central Valley. We will highlight the ten honorees in our Heroes Blog Series.

hero22_tbroach_smName: Colonel Thomas C. Broach, CRNA

Occupation: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (retired) and U.S. Army Colonel (retired) 

Nominated By: The School of Nursing and the Central California Center for Excellence in Nursing

A strong faith and a deep desire to care for others during their darkest of times is what motivated Colonel Thomas Broach’s nearly 50-year career in nursing. Also a decorated veteran, Broach enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967, serving as a weapons technician in southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. It was during this time that he found his true calling.

“Initially I was impressed by the actions of medics, corpsmen, and nurses I observed while serving in the military,” Broach said. “I decided a medical career was my calling.”

Broach returned to the states and enrolled in Fresno State’s nursing program, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1976. Wanting to expand his knowledge of the profession, he later earned his master’s degree in nursing from CSU Long Beach and became a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) in 1985.

Afterwards, he led a seasoned career as nurse anesthetist for the Fresno VA Medical Center and the U.S. Army, where he was deployed overseas seven times to serve tours in combat support hospitals. These tours included Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and Iraq (1990), Kandahar and Afghanistan (2002), Kosovo (2004), Iraq (2007) and an additional three tours in Germany at the Landstuhl Regional Army Medical Center.

“What I enjoyed most about my nursing career was simply helping those who needed others to care for them,” Broach said. “As a Mormon elder said, ‘God watches over us and does intervene in our lives but usually through the actions of another human being.’”

Broach went on to serve more than 38 years in the U.S. Army, in both active and reserve duty, before retiring honorably as a full colonel in 2008. He continued his career with the Fresno VA for 27 years, including 16 years as the chief CRNA. He says caring for fellow veterans was among his most rewarding duties.

In his lifetime, Broach has worn many hats, but it is his time serving in a medical capacity for international medical and surgical missions, in some of the poorest regions, that stays close to his heart.

“I have had a long and blessed career as a nurse and had the opportunity to give back by serving in 15 missions in austere regions of Bolivia, Africa, the Philippines and Tonga – and one mission to the Navajo Nation,” Broach said. “I was inspired to go where help was needed most.”

Although now retired from nursing full-time, that same motto inspires Broach’s latest endeavor as a volunteer patrol chaplain for the Fresno Police Department. Of this role, Broach says,

“It is both challenging and rewarding, but my nursing career prepared me for it.”

The 2022 Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held virtually this year. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at bwilkinson@csufresno.edu.