JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Medical emergencies can occur to service members anytime, anywhere on a battlefield because of acts of violence, accidents or illness. As a result, service members are transported to any medical center located throughout Iraq for medical attention.

During this process, service members could lose equipment or clothing. More importantly, they become separated from their unit and may have no means of contact with their unit leadership and comrades in arms. Staying in touch with service members provides superiors the information needed to provide appropriate care as necessary.

While service members are receiving medical care, someone has to be responsible for making sure that they receive whatever they may need. For the 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), that someone is its hospital liaisons officers (LNO).

"Our LNOs are very focused on ensuring prompt and effective medical care is provided to our Soldiers and that units know the status and how to contact every Soldier," said Brig. Gen. Michael J. Lally, the commanding general of the 3d ESC. "Furthermore, our LNOs make an extra effort to assist Soldiers and to ensure their stay in the hospital is as hassle free as possible."

Functioning as a liaison between patients and units, liaison officers (LNOs) have a unique mission of keeping them both informed.

"We supply units with the necessary information so that they know what's going on with their Soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Stewart, a 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Air Force Theater Hospital liaison officer here and New Middletown, Ind. native. "At times, units are like parents in that they want to know how their Soldiers are doing."

When a service member arrives at a hospital, it's the responsibility of the LNO to get as much information from them as possible. Information gathered by LNOs include a service member's full name, social security number, and unit information for tracking purposes. LNOs provide commanders the necessary information to update the status of their Soldiers and health status; on whether the injury is serious or not, and if the injury is battlefield or non-battlefield related.

LNOs assigned to the 3d ESC have a responsibility of ensuring that any service member from a 3d ESC subordinate unit is well taken care of. In addition, they also assist other units and service members that don't have an LNO representative.

When a patient is receiving care at a hospital, LNO's have the responsibility of monitoring their progress and observing them for change in condition health status, while ensuring they attend all their scheduled medical appointments.

While it's acknowledged the hospital LNOs do an excellent job helping service members, Stewart mentioned there are challenges. He explained his job is not necessarily tough but at times can be very busy and demanding, especially when there are a lot of patients in the hospital.

Stewart said that as an LNO, he has to be mentally prepared to see anything, as the injuries can be gruesome at times. But in spite of this, he said he enjoys helping service members and his job as a whole. Others appreciate the jobs LNOs do as well.

"The LNOs are my eyes and ears in the hospital," said Lt. Col. Thomas Oliver, an El Paso, Texas, native and 3d ESC command surgeon. "Having LNOs allow me to get around and do the other things that I have to do. Because of LNOs, I get to attend whatever briefings or meetings that I'm scheduled to attend."

Oliver also mentioned the positive feedback he receives from service members regarding the help they receive from the LNOs.
"I've not met a more dedicated group of individuals," Oliver said. "When you have someone taking care of Soldiers and giving the shirts off their backs, you can't ask for more than that. They are absolutely golden."

When asked about what he thinks of his job, Stewart simply said, "I love it. I'm fortunate to have been selected for this position."

Story by Spc. Michael Behlin


Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16