Sons of the Flag gives $100,000 for burn surgery fellowship

Ryan Parrot and Sherry Whidby (right) from Sons of the Flag present a gift to UTSW's Dr. Brett Arnoldo (left) to support a burn surgery fellowship.

By Sharon Reynolds

UT Southwestern Medical Center received a $100,000 gift from Sons of the Flag, an organization that supports innovative research and medical care to help military and first-responder burn survivors. The gift will fund the Burn Fellowship at UT Southwestern, which prepares the next generation of specialists to advance the field of burn care.

Founder and President/CEO Ryan Parrott established Sons of the Flag in 2012 after experiencing a series of life-changing events. These began when he watched the twin towers fall on 9/11, which inspired him to enlist in the military, where he served eight years as a U.S. Navy SEAL, completed three combat tours in Iraq, and instructed at the organization’s Advanced Training Command.

While serving in Iraq in 2005, Mr. Parrott was riding atop a Humvee in enemy territory when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED). With his face and arms covered in first- and second-degree burns, he witnessed his fellow team members suffer devastating burns and blasts that would ultimately prove to be lifelong injuries.

After his tour, he moved to Dallas where he met other veterans, including one in particular who had suffered severe burns and still had visible disfiguring scars on his face and body even after 30 surgeries. Because of his personal experience, Mr. Parrott knows how life can change drastically for burn survivors. Ongoing wound care can be painful, and some burn survivors require rehabilitation for the rest of their lives. Scarring can limit function and mobility and can also leave lasting emotional trauma. It was Mr. Parrott’s disappointment with the lack of research advancements and gaps in services for burn care that fueled his passion to change the future for burn survivors through his organization. Sons of the Flag has since supported UT Southwestern’s Burn Fellowship with gifts totaling $300,000.

“Every single day, a burn survivor has to look in the mirror at somebody new and identify themselves in a new form. Then they have to overcome that, as well as live their daily lives. The simplest thing we can do is to support and empower them. Our goal at Sons of the Flag is to accelerate the process of testing leading technologies and push them into circulation for immediate use to aid the recovery of burn survivors across the nation. UT Southwestern has a stellar reputation that is unsurpassed, and we are proud to be a partner,” Mr. Parrott said.

“We are grateful to the Sons of the Flag for its generous support of fellowships that expand clinical and research training opportunities for physician-scientists dedicated to discovery and improving the standard of burn care. We appreciate the organization’s continued support for our efforts towards healing, discovery, and education within the specialty of burn care,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern.

Facts about burn victims

• Each year in the U.S., 486,000 people need medical treatment for burns, including soldiers and first responders with life-changing injuries and disfigurement.
• Severe burn survivors can spend months, sometimes years, undergoing care in a burn unit.
• More than 96 percent of burn survivors live, and some face a lifetime of complications, surgeries, and doctor visits.

Sources: American Burn Association, Sons of the Flag


Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.