Recently retired Air Force Col. (Dr.) Dean Winslow, who successfully sued a California civilian hospital where he worked for wrongful termination, is donating the entire $1 million windfall to agencies that help war refugees and their children in places like Iraq and Syria.

He doesn’t believe he's done anything special.

"People say, ‘Oh, that was so wonderful you did that, Dean.’ But ... most officers or enlisted who would have been in my position would have done the same thing," he told Air Force Times. 

Winslow, who spent 35 years in the Air National Guard as a medical officer, started his career in the Louisiana Air National Guard. His career included  beginning his career said  The Air Force was his choice early on as he "grew up, like most kids in the ‘50s and ‘60s, you love airplanes," he recently told Air Force Times. 

He did not find the time to fly recreationally, he said, (even though he's flown over 20 types of aircraft including the F-4 and F-16, and holds an Airline Transport Pilot license and type ratings in Boeing 737s, Douglas DC-3s, and L-29 Delfin jets), but was able to build on his career from entering the Louisiana Guard to one day​ A physician who specialized in infectious diseases, he went on to serve as a chief flight surgeon, a state air surgeon in the Delaware National Guard, and a medical squadron commander in Baghdad. 

He also deployed four times to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. When advanced medical care became increasingly difficult for civilians in theater, in 2006, ​Winslow sponsored and arranged transportation, housing and medical care in the United States for 23 Iraqi children and two adults in the U.S.​, who spent weeks, if not months, receiving treatment and recovering from the trauma of war. Some later returned for additional treatments, and hospitals worked with Winslow to continue this program for more than six years.  

But h​His latest act of remarkable selflessness builds upon that legacysanctifying grace may top it all​.

Unexpected windfall 

Winslow, who teaches at Stanford University, and his wife, also a physician at Stanford, created a foundation trust to distribute more than over ​$1 million dollars to refugees and children stricken by war in places like Iraq and Syria​.  

The money, Winslow said, was not expected to appear at this point in their lives. 

As a professor of medicine, ​Winslow, a professor of medicine who has taught at Stanford since joined Stanford University in​ 1998 for his second career​, and ​became the co-director of the department’s Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training Program. And if that wasn’t enough, h​He also joined the staff at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in 2003, where he served as chief of the division of AIDS Medicine for nine years. Between 2011 and 2013, he was the chair of the medical department there. 

He commuted between California and Delaware, his home state, as necessary for Air Nation Guard drills,"​ he said.  

Winslow perceived a misstep in​ After finding problems with the "quality and safety" practices for patients ​in the outpatient clinics at Santa Clara, Winslow spoke out. Although he said he , who ​couldn’t discuss the full ​case because of legal agreements, the bottom line was that he summarized that he just ​didn’t like what he saw. When hH​e pushed back to his executives, . And ​it cost him that job in 2013. 

When ​Winslow respond by bringing a wrongful termination brought a ​lawsuit against Santa Clara c​County. The judge ruled in his favor in October and  that he was wrongfully terminated. And as compensation, heawarded him $1.4 million in damages in October​.

Giving it away 

But in this case, it really wasn't about the money.

In a conversation with his wife, they agreed: They would give it all away.

Winslow and his wife didn’t need to be millionaires. ​"At this point in our lives, setting up a charitable trust would be a way of continuing this mission," he said.

People who know him aren't surprised. 

"Dean was an invaluable asset," said retired Brig. Gen. Bruce Thompson, who officiated Winslow's military retirement ceremony last month. Thompson retired as the chief of staff for the Delaware Air National Guard, and has known Winslow for 30 years.  

"But h​He's the exception to the rule," Thompson said. "He is an extremely smart individual. But if you were to meet him on the street, you would think you're just talking to the average Joe. It's actually unbelievable." Thompson said.​  

Winslow has more than over ​16 Air Force awards and medals, including the Legion of Merit. But the rewards he seeks are much more personal.

His motivation? is simple.​ Turn a tragedy something ​seen in the headlines into something a little "more positive."

"The plight of Syrian and Iraqi refugees who’ve suffered because of civil war and because of [the Islamic State] ... it’s just devastating," Winslow said.


Winslow sits with Ali at the 447th Expeditionary Medical Squadron hospital in Baghdad in 2006. "Ali had severe scoliosis," he said. "Ali was treated at Philadelphia Shriners Hospital for Children in 2007, 2008 and 2013."
Photo Credit: Courtesy Dean Winslow
The funds — about $50,000 handed out so far, he said  — are being distributed to organizations like UNICEF and Crisis Action through The Eagle Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization inof​ which "only 1 percent of the fund’s assets are used for administration, guaranteeing that charitable giving goes efficiently to groups helping those in need," according to the group.

Career in service

Winslow was intrigued with the Air Force, and flying, at an early age. He The Air Force was his choice early on as he ​"grew up, like most kids in the ‘50s and ‘60s ... you love airplanes," he saidrecently told Air Force Times​.

That led him to a career in service and a passion for flying. Although he couldn't find the time to fly recreationally, he's learned to fly more than He did not find the time to fly recreationally, he said, (even though he's flown over ​20 types of aircraft including the F-4 and F-16, and holds an Airline Transport Pilot license and type ratings in Boeing 737s, Douglas DC-3s, and L-29 Delfin jets. He's enjoyed his long period of service.

"It's the sense of mission, camaraderie and being a part of something bigger than yourself," Winslow said of his service​.

But his tours in the Middle East affected him deeply. He said he may even He may ​return to the Middle East at some point as a volunteer.  

Winslow is also ​keeping in touch with what's going on overseas by conversing with a colleague he met at Stanford, now his new friend  — retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis. 

"I touch basis with him from time to time as well" as he is doing some consulting, Winslow said.

Winslow and his wife are still at Stanford.

Now he has been given the means to help people deeply affected by years of warfare, and he means to make the most of it.

"Again, it was the kind of thing that probably just about any [airman] would have done if they were in the position I was," Winslow said.

Thompson rebutted, "There are some who may, yes ... but I beg to differ."

Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East and Europe for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at

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