William Beaumont medic heads to MEDCOM warrior competition
May 3, 2012
Sgt. Michael DiVernieri's military fatigues contrast with the brightly lit walls of the Soldier Family Medical Clinic on Ft. Bliss.
His scarred cheeks -- remnants from a tour in Iraq and a badge of honor during a combatives exercise -- turn bright red at the mention of his recent feat at Fort Lewis, Wash.
"He broke a guy's arm," said Col. Sylvia Garcia, chief nurse at the SFMC, giving the short version of DiVernieri's triumph in combatives during a week-long competition in April among medics for the Western Regional Medical Command Best Warrior competition.
The 2012 WRMC Soldier of the Year shies away from the story.
"I don't know if it really broke. I just heard a crack, felt the arm pop and then there was a bump," DiVernieri said of his opponent's limb.
But the William Beaumont Army Medical Center medic relishes the accolades of the rest of the tale -- a strong showing in the Army Physical Fitness Test, day and night land navigation and weapons qualification.
He also placed second for his weight class in a combatives tournament, received the highest score for an oral board and performed well for the 50-question written exam, two-page essay writing and race to write down the Army's Non-commissioned Officer Creed.
"I just always knew Sgt. DiVernieri was going to win (WRMC Soldier of the Year)," said Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Pino, NCOIC of the SFMC. "Since day one, Sgt. DiVernieri has had that attitude. If he's going to do it, he's going to do it right."
DiVernieri joined the U.S. Army in February 2007 after earning his bachelor's degree in history from the University of Northern Colorado. Originally pursuing a career as a high school social studies teacher, DiVernieri said one day he realized he wanted more.
"I wanted to do something with my life," said DiVernieri who first enlisted not as a medic but as an engineer.
He was stationed in Hawaii for 30 days in 2007 before deploying to Iraq with the 82nd Engineer Company under the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. A few years later, DiVernieri again wanted to do more.
"When I first told my old engineering unit I wanted to be a medic, I felt like I had to prove to them that I knew what I was doing," he said.
In October 2010, DiVernieri attended medic school in Ft. Sam Houston. He was then stationed at Ft. Bliss with the William Beaumont Army Medical Center. On April 1 of this year, DiVernieri was promoted to sergeant.
Twice changing his career projection, DiVernieri said he knows the routine for life-altering decisions -- the consequences and the questions from outsiders.
"But you just never know when you'll get another chance," DiVernieri said.
In February, DiVernieri was asked to step in to compete at the WRMC competition -- filling in for WBAMC's Soldier of the Year Spc. Adam Scott.
Even with limited time for training to prepare for the event, DiVernieri jumped at the chance.
"The competition reinforces that you are a Soldier first -- that there are skills you need to have. It's easy to lose those skills, to lose your edge. I might work in a lab or in a ward, but I need to remember how to fire a weapon, do land navigation or carry a dummy on a sked litter," said DiVernieri, floor NCO at the SFMC.
The former engineering Soldier admitted to looking forward to the events that had him crawling around in the mud and firing weapons in the rain.
"It's essential for every Soldier to remember that their MOS is second to their first duty which is being a Soldier," Pino said.
Maj. Cynthia Buchanan, officer in charge for the SFMC, said that DiVernieri's warrior of the year accomplishment was no surprise.
"He is a superb medic with a vast skill set and is always willing to train others," Buchanan said. "Sgt. DiVernieri will do well at the U.S. Army Medical Command level."
In June, DiVernieri and Staff Sgt. John Ahern, laboratory technician for Madigan Army Medical Center and the top NCO for this year's WRMC Best Warrior competition, will compete in the MEDCOM Best Warrior Competition at Ft. Sam Houston.
Facing Soldiers and NCOs from Army medical treatment facilities across the world, DiVernieri is expecting steep competition for the honor.
"But I'm at my best when presented with a challenge or doubt or a "oh, you can't do this," DiVernieri said.
"I'm used to it -- proving to others that I know what I'm doing."