Madigan welcomes home medical Soldiers with 'hug fest' redeployment ceremony
February 16, 2010
- 30 Madigan Soldiers and their Families received a Freedom Team Salute packet signed by the secretary of the Army and Army chief of staff
- Nearly 90 doctors, nurses, technicians and Department of the Army civilians who work at Madigan are currently deployed around the world
Deven Patel is grateful that his mom has redeployed home from Iraq - dinner is edible once again. This isn't the first time Deven, the 9-year-old son of Lt. Cols. Tarak Patel and Kimberly Wenner, had "daddy dinner;" Wenner deployed to Iraq several years previously. But the two officers serving at Madigan Healthcare System aren't the typical dual-military Family. They fall under the U.S. Army Medical Command's Professional Filler System, which individually or in small groups, deploys Madigan Soldiers to both war zones or other Army posts to augment battalion aid stations, field hospitals or other military treatment facilities. These medical Soldiers can backfill deployed units for six months or more, and don't receive a special fanfare when they return home. Madigan took the first step to remedy this by honoring recently-redeployed Soldiers during a Warrior Recognition Ceremony Jan. 29, by the Deployed Warrior Wall in the Medical Mall. Each of the 30 Madigan Soldiers and their Families received a Freedom Team Salute packet signed by the secretary of the Army and Army chief of staff. Nearly 90 doctors, nurses, technicians and Department of the Army civilians who work at Madigan are currently deployed around the world. And, according to Madigan Commander Col. Jerry Penner III, they will get a "hug fest" ceremony as well. "I can already imagine again that lonely feeling of you guys returning, sometimes within the cloak of darkness, and probably without a lot of pomp and circumstance coming back from SeaTac (International Airport)," Penner said during the event. "It's not really fair and I think you should deserve similar treatment as the Warriors who come back to Joint Base Lewis-McChord." Madigan, as a hospital, will never unfurl its Colors in combat, but Madigan Soldiers are expected to fight under other units' Colors, Penner said. Wenner knows this only too well, as she left her scalpel and stethoscope in the Dermatology clinic and filled the role as a brigade surgeon for the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, in Kirkuk, Iraq - a Fort Hood, Texas unit. She spent more time teaching Iraqis how to provide quality medical care than treating patients during her six-month deployment last year. "It was weird being in a line unit instead of a medical unit; it's a whole different world," Wenner said. Celebrating Wenner's return home at the ceremony was Patel, Deven, and her two other children, Aiden, 7, and Talia, 4. "I know the kids made a lot of sacrifices when I was gone and I think it's important for them to be brought in and shown what mommy went through," she said. Even though deploying is hard on the Family, both Wenner and Patel owe the military everything. "We wouldn't have a Family without the Army because we met at Officer Basic Course," Patel said. They both enjoyed the ceremony, and if they are asked to deploy under PROFIS again, they hope there will be another observance like this one to celebrate a happy homecoming - and for Deven, good food.