February 24, 2020

James L. Hancock, MD

“How far that little candle throws his beams. So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
– William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice


Good Deeds

Dr. James Hancock voluntarily enlisted in the United States Navy in 1982 and later received his commission from the Naval Academy in 1990. Since his graduation from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Dr. Hancock’s distinguished service as a Navy physician has been characterized by a tireless commitment to his country, the Navy Medical Corps and the community in which he practices.

Dr. Hancock has completed 11 deployments, including combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia and Kosovo. He was awarded the Legion of Merit (Combat Award) and a Purple Heart. His work in the evaluation and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) led to his appointment on a special task force by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he has made a dramatic impact on the acute and long-term care of the growing number of active duty military patients suffering  fromTBI.

It’s personal as well as professional for this physician, who suffered a traumatic brain injury himself. He shared his own experience in videos on the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center website (dvbic.org) and on brainline.org, providing facts and encouragement for brain injury patients of every stripe.

Dr. Hancock was Task Force Surgeon for a humanitarian mission in East Timor, the poorest nation in the world when it formalized its independence in 2002. In the wake of violent turmoil, Dr. Hancock was responsible for the repair and renovation of medical facilities and the care of more than 1,000 local patients. He has played instrumental roles in medical humanitarian missions in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and throughout Southeast Asia.

In 2012, Dr. Hancock was appointed Deputy Commander of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, where has enacted multiple initiatives with a direct impact on the availability and quality of medical care in the Hampton Roads community. He is spearheading an initiative to allow the compassionate emergency care of local civilians at the Naval Medical Center. He’s worked closely with leadership at EVMS to build increasing collaborative efforts in medical education and simulation training.

His continual liaison with civilian healthcare leaders has allowed for the seamless transition of care for military patients, retirees and dependents who require initial care in the civilian medical system. Dr. Hancock has engaged numerous civilian counterparts, including the Health Care Administrators of Tidewater, to discuss his personal experiences in combat medicine, contributing greatly to local civilian planning and preparation for mass casualty and medical disaster scenarios.

Dr. Hancock’s family – his wife and two children – share his compassion and his zeal for action. With her parents’ full support, his daughter developed the “Heroes for the Home Front” program at Western Branch High School, a mentor-based initiative to help young people deal with the challenges of military life – everything from the trauma of changing schools to dealing with family deployments. The project has evolved into a robust website (www.herosofhomefront.com), a resource-heavy clearinghouse of information for transferring military students. The program’s incredible success has spawned similar outreach in other school systems, including one in Japan.

The Hancocks’ son, now a freshman and an accomplished athlete, qualified for the state finals in cross country and competed in the Footlocker Nationals for cross country, Dr. Hancock says with visible pride, noting he’s still a good baseball player as well.

Dr. and Mrs. Hancock – now married 22 years – remain committed to the families of returning veterans. She has spoken to many groups about what it’s like to be a military family dealing with multiple deployments, and what it’s like to move every two years.

Dr. Hancock’s contributions as a military physician to service members and their families, his humanitarian accomplishments overseas, and his extensive efforts as a leader on behalf of the Hampton Roads community reflect an unyielding and far-reaching commitment to service.


If you know physicians who are performing good deeds – great or small – who you would like to see highlighted in this publication, please submit information here — or call our editor, Bobbie Fisher, at 757-773-7550.