Top AMEDD civilian updates Fort Drum medical personnel
August 25, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers and civilians from the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity -- Fort Drum gathered on post Monday to receive updates about current and future plans from the organization's top civilian.
Gregg Stevens, who has dedicated roughly 44 years of service to Army medicine, works as the Army Medical Department Center and School deputy to the commanding general and as civilian corps chief at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Stevens said Soldiers and civilians work on the same team, and they should know and respect what each brings to the table, especially because civilian employees make up 63 percent of the Army Medical Command.
He then showed the audience the Civilian Corps Creed and explained that it is similar to the Soldiers' Creed -- Soldiers and civilians work toward the same mission.
"Friendly fire isn't (friendly). Anybody who's ever been to war will tell you (that)," Stevens said. "As part of the same team, if we're 'firing' at each other, we're wasting energy and opportunity. The chemistry of the team is real important … and is built around the attitude people have about each other."
While the Army medical system is in place to care for Soldiers and Families, the main reason is to ensure Soldiers keep their skills current to prepare them for deployments, Stevens explained.
"We're putting hands on patients every day in one form or another so we can win the nation's wars," he said. "That's what everybody on this team is involved in on a day-to-day basis."
Stevens said he's proud of his 30 years of Army service as a medical officer, but he's exceptionally proud to say he's an Army civilian.
Currently, the Army is working toward a civilian workforce transformation. Stevens is AMEDD civilians' advocate at the Department of the Army.
About a year ago, only 40 percent of Army civilians belonged to a career program. Career programs have representatives who support and defend civilian positions at the Department of the Army, staff to manage career programs and money allocated to support educational opportunities. Stevens represents AMEDD civilians at the Department of the Army Civilian Board of Governors and at the Career Program Policy Committee.
However, Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced last week that over the next three years, a task force will restructure the institutional Army. Currently, the Army has more than 17,000 civilians over its authorized level, Stevens said.
"Many commands are already going through these cuts for the coming year," he said. "In my opinion, this will happen over the next three to five years. So far, the Defense Health Program has not been hit with any cuts. That doesn't mean we're not vulnerable, but I think DoD has made certain commitments to our Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that we will have to fulfill."
When the restructuring comes, Stevens said he believes it will be through attrition rather than a reduction in force, or RIF. Stevens added that the average age in the civilian workforce is 49, and 58 percent of employees are retirement eligible.
Civilians are hired to provide continuity and functional expertise to the organization. With the upcoming reduction in the military force, Stevens said he sees civilians playing a larger role in leadership positions.
"(The Army has) not done a good job of training our civilians to be leaders in a government environment," he explained. "Leadership is going to be one of our (areas of focus), and we will start having some leadership opportunities for civilians."
Stevens encouraged civilians to help generate a requirement for additional training and education by completing individual development plans, because those drive the funding for advancement opportunities. In the future, the AMEDD Center and School also will begin offering civilian training through video teleconferences.
"There are some folks who are very happy to be what they are today for the rest of their working career," Stevens said. "That's wonderful because we need those folks, but there are also folks out there who want to grow up to be something else."
In the military, Soldiers are afforded the opportunity for training and advancement, but many civilians aren't automatically considered for promotion, currently don't have career paths and are sometimes forced to relocate to continue their advancement. Stevens said he hopes to close the gaps between the military and civilian careers by offering similar training and lifelong learning opportunities.
For information about AMEDD civilian education and training opportunities, visit the website at www.ameddciviliancorps.amedd.army.mil.