Fort Sill dental residents graduate
July 19, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla. -- Eight Army dentists began a new phase in their medical careers as they graduated from the Comanche Advanced Education in General Dentistry-1 year program, a post-doctoral level training for new Army dentists.
Col. Mary Jo Corbett, Fort Sill Dental Activity commander and dean of the Comanche AEGD program, welcomed the residents, their families, faculty and staff to the graduation ceremonies July 13 at the Graham Resiliency Training Campus.
"This may be a Friday the 13th, but we have fair Oklahoma weather and are sending these new Army dentists out to serve their fellow Soldiers," said Corbett. "Over the last 12 months the residents have been actively engaged in the best training available in the Army Dental Corps today."
The original postgraduate dental program had been established in the 1960s, but discontinued in 1993. In 2001, the Fort Sill DENTAC re-established the postgraduate dental education program as the Comanche AEGD-1 Year Program. The revived program contained some fundamentally different approaches to training new dental officers.
The one-year program pairs residents with mentors, who specialize in different areas of dentistry such as oral surgery, endodontic, periodontics, orthodontics and other specialities. This allows dental students the opportunity to see more complex cases in those areas than they would normally see in dental school.
"The Army is fortunate to have the one-year program for advanced education in dentistry," said Col. Bernard Hennessy, Comanche AEGD Residency Program director.
"I know that our counterparts in the civilian world are envious of what we have and the quality of post-graduate educational training we are able to give these young dentists. This program is comparable to the highest program at any dental school in the country. These graduates are proud of the training that they have received over this past year," Hennessy added.
The guest speaker for the graduation ceremony was Col. Robert Manga, chief of graduate dental education for the Army Dental Corps. Manga admonished the new graduates to remember that, even though they have learned a lot, they need to be lifelong students.
"You came here right out of dental school, thinking you knew a lot about dentistry. But, you soon found out you didn't know as much as you thought you did," he said. "Now that you have completed this program you know a lot more about dentistry, and what it takes to be an Army officer."
He went on to point out to these graduates that they are part of a special group of some 250 residents who have graduated from [JUMP]the Fort Sill program, and one of nearly 2,800 dental officers who have graduated from the one-year program Armywide.
"Graduating from this program is like being given a key, and that key is to your future in dentistry. I hope you take these keys and use those to open future doors. Be prepared when opportunity comes knocking, because it often only knocks once," Manga said.
Capt. Christopher Luevano was recognized as Resident of the Year by Maj. Nathan Parrish, Comanche AEGD program assistant director. Luevano said the award meant a great deal to him.
"This year we had a lot of great mentors and every one of them taught us a great deal. We're leaving here as a representation of the dental command and the skills that we have been given," he said. Luevano was one of three residents in this year's class who graduated with a doctor of dentistry from the University of Southern California. He will be stationed in Hohenfels, Germany, where he will serve as a general dentist.
Resident Capt. Keane Lindblad agreed with Luevano about the post-graduate program at Fort Sill.
"The Comanche 1-year program has been a fantastic learning experience for me as well as my fellow classmates. The opportunities we have experienced will serve us well when we are out with the Soldiers," he said. Lindblad will be attached to the 296th Combat Support Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and will deploy to Afghanistan, for four months.
"That's why we have trained so hard, so that we can protect the oral health of our fighting forces while they are protecting our freedom. We are there to serve the Soldiers," said Lindblad, who received his doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Washington.
"This has been an outstanding group of residents. We say that of the graduates each year, but this group was something special," Corbett said. "They have worked very hard to learn more about the Army dental activity and I know that they will make us proud as they go to their new duty stations. The Comanche 1-year program is a tremendous asset to these residents and what they have learned here will serve them for years to come."
Luevano summed up the feelings of many of his fellow graduates.
"My fellow residents have all taught me more than I could ever imagine. Coming out of dental school and after doing this for one year, I realized I knew pretty much next to nothing. Leaving here, I have learned a ton of things and hopefully will be able to go on and do good things," Luevano said.
The list of graduates from the 2012 class of the Comanche AEGD-1 year program and their next duty stations are: Capts. Ryan Allen and Suzanna Cammann, general dentists assigned to Fort Sill; Capt. Emanuel Enime, general dentist at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Belgium; Capt. Joshua Gailey, general dentist at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.; Capt. Akeela Johnson, general dentist at the 94th Support Battalion, Fort Polk, La.; Capt. Herbert Mendoza, general dentist at Fort Drum, N.Y.; Capt. Keane Lindblad, general dentist with the 296th Support Battalion, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and Luevano, general dentist at Hohenfels, Germany.