Falls Church, Virginia -- For the first time in its history, the C.J. Reddy Leadership Conference, the Army Nurse Corps' premiere leadership symposium, was well represented with not one, but two First Army Division West nurses.
Capt. Robert Blome, an observer, coach/trainer with the 479th Field Artillery Brigade's Medical Training Task Force, and Capt. Brandi Lange, Division West's clinical operations nurse, joined 45 peers from throughout the armed services, Department of Defense and Public Health Services, at the Defense Health Agency headquarters March 29 to April 2.
Blome, this year's recipient of the Nurse Corps' Reserve Component Award of Excellence, was both excited and humbled by the experience.
"I'm honored that my leadership even thought to nominate me for this," said Blome. "To be in there with all the other components was really exciting. It's a huge honor."
Blome recalls his thoughts and feelings just moments before the announcement.
"Only two are awarded each year, one to Active Duty and one to the Reserves," he said. "I remember sitting at the dinner and feeling extremely excited for Capt. [Anthony] Sabatini who won the 2015 Army Nurse Corps' Active Duty Award of Excellence. When they called my name next, I was shocked, humbled, and speechless."
Lange, Division West's active duty nominee, added what it meant for her to be nominated and selected.
"Considering only company-grade officers from the entire Nurse Corps were selected to attend, it was a huge honor to be selected to represent FORSCOM and First Army," she said. "It means a lot that my boss thought highly enough of me to nominate me for this honor."
Blome and Lange went on to describe the five-day course detailing numerous book discussions and presentations by ANC and Medical Command senior leaders covering a variety of topics to include leadership, thinking outside the box, AMEDD's future, Arbinger Leadership Training, and talent management.
"It was great learning the vision and future of the Army Health Care System directly from the top," said Blome. "The collaboration with motivated, like-minded leaders was very rewarding."
Blome continued to speak highly of the conference and quickly identified the things he found to be most beneficial.
"I feel the C.J. Reddy course provided me with a more holistic and global view, not only of Army health care, but also of military health," he said.
"As we collaborated in our groups, I learned how the Navy, Air Force, and Public Health Services address, or go through, some of the same issues Army health care faces. I feel there is so much we can learn from each other," he added.
Selection for C.J. Reddy is no easy task, and according to the Division West Surgeon Lt. Col. Timothy Haley, selection is highly-competitive and requires selectees to be nominated by their commands and thoroughly vetted by an ANC panel before receiving an invitation.
The C.J. Reddy Leadership Conference was named in honor of Col. Charles J. Reddy, a long-time Army nurse most noted for his leadership qualities and enthusiasm for developing junior leaders. During his tenure, Reddy specialized in clinical practice, education, administration, and support and research.
The conference was first organized and held in June of 1992 with the goal of encouraging junior officer leadership development. During the course, attendees are provided the opportunity to meet and work with ANC officers in key leadership positions, allowing them to gain a unique insight into the future of Army nursing.