March 1, 2014
by Amber Baillie
Academy Spirit staff writer
The Academy's men's tennis coach was named the 2014 Brig. Gen. Malham M. Wakin Character and Leadership Award winner during the National Character and Leadership Symposium here Feb. 27.
Lt. Col. Dan Oosterhous, a 1993 graduate of the Academy, received the award for his perseverance and resiliency after suffering two brainstem strokes, three weeks apart, maintaining a positive attitude amidst difficult circumstances and demonstrating integrity, service and excellence.
Oosterhous suffered his first stroke Feb. 28, 2013 due to a dissection of an artery. He was put on a blood-thinner, and for the next two weeks participated in physical and occupational therapy to regain strength through the right side of his body. A week later on March 21, he suffered a second stroke causing near paralysis on the left side of his body.
Oosterhous remained in the hospital for four weeks and was unable to drive for two months. He learned to use his weakened right side for everything and to retrain his brain to communicate to the muscles on his left side.
Throughout his recovery process, Oosterhous continually set and accomplished his rehabilitation goals to get back to his duties at the Academy as soon as possible. He also inspired family members, co-workers and players from his team by sharing his journey on an online blog.
In August 2013 he returned to the Academy to coach his team part-time and traveled with them to half of their scheduled matches. Through his adversity, Oosterhous has mentored cadets is working toward traveling full-time with his team and teaching physical education in this spring.
Oosterhous was also a regular supporter of the Wounded Warrior Program's adaptive sports camps, during which he shared his challenges on the road to recovery.
The Wakin award, named for Brig. Gen. Malham Wakin, is presented annually to the individual or team making the greatest contribution to cadet character development during the previous calendar year. Nominees are considered for significant contributions to cadet character development, conspicuous moral courage, great personal sacrifice, conduct above and beyond the requirements of duty, and leadership and professionalism in keeping with the highest ideals of Air Force tradition. Wakin served as vice-dean and as head of the Philosophy and Fine Arts Department from 1959-1995.