Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker assumed command of the Army\'s largest medical organization during a ceremony at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, on Thursday, Dec. 13.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody passed the flag of U.S. Army Medical Command to Schoomaker, who replaces Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock, acting commander since March. Pollock now serves as deputy surgeon general for force management.
As MEDCOM commander, Schoomaker has command authority over Army fixed-facility medical, dental and veterinary units in the United States and Europe. Earlier in the week he was promoted and sworn in for his "second hat" as Army Surgeon General. In that capacity, he has Army staff responsibility for all Army medical, dental and veterinary missions, including those of deployable and Reserve Component units.
Medical Command is one of 11 Direct Reporting Units in the Army. It includes approximately 27,000 military personnel and 28,000 civilian employees. It provides medical care for more than 5 million beneficiaries - active-duty service members, retirees and their family members.
"I pledge to be tireless in my efforts to have all soldiers and family members live long and stay young in mind, body and spirit," Schoomaker said during his remarks.
"Through 232 years of our history, a history that began six weeks after the Army itself was formed, and very shortly after the Declaration of Independence, courageous and gifted Soldier-medics have kept faith with those who place themselves in harm's way. The essence of our professionalism and ethos is embodied in our Warrior Medics," he said.
Cody praised Army medical personnel, calling them "the people who stare death in the face and say 'not on my watch.'"
He spoke of presenting Purple Heart medals to 1st Lt. Jabari White and Staff Sgt. Victor Dominguez, both severely injured and recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center. He described how White refused to receive his medal in bed, but dressed and stood for the ceremony despite severe burns, and of how Dominguez, with 90 percent of his body bandaged, "fought to salute me."
"When people think of 'Army Strong' it's only natural to think of Fort Benning or Fort Jackson or the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan, where soldiers soldier, pushing themselves physically and mentally, weapons and platforms all about them, doing the job that soldiers do so well. When I think of Army Strong, I think of Lieutenant Jabari White and Staff Sergeant Victor Dominguez. I think of them and their doctors and their nurses and their therapists and technicians," Cody said.
Schoomaker previously served as the commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command. He has also commanded U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick, Md.; Southeast Regional Medical Command and Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center; the 30th Medical Brigade headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany and Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson, Colo.
He also has held the position of chief of the Army Medical Corps.
In 1979 he began his Army career as a research hematologist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He also has served as assistant chief and program director of the Department of Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; medical consultant to the Headquarters of 7th Medical Command at Heidelberg, Germany; deputy commander for clinical services at Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany; chief and program director of the Department of Medicine and director of primary care at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash.; director of medical education for the Office of The Surgeon General/Headquarters USAMEDCOM conducting a split operation between Washington, D.C., and Fort Sam Houston, Texas; director of clinical operations at MEDCOM Headquarters; and command surgeon for U.S. Army Forces Command.
In 1970 he graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, was commissioned a second lieutenant as a Distinguished Military Graduate, and awarded a Bachelor of Science degree. He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1975 and completed his Ph.D. in human genetics in 1979. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., from 1976 to 1978, followed by a fellowship in hematology at Duke University Medical Center in 1979.
He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in both internal medicine and hematology. His military education includes completion of the Combat Casualty Care Course, Medical Management of Chemical Casualty Care Course, AMEDD Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.
His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (with oak leaf cluster), the Legion of Merit (with four oak leaf clusters), the Meritorious Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal. He has been honored with the Order of Military Medical Merit and the "A" Proficiency Designator and holds the Expert Field Medical Badge.