By Ms. Laura Boyd (Army Medicine)November 4, 2015
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital medic Staff Sgt. Travis Lander was honored at the 6th Annual Angels of the Battlefield ceremony Oct. 29, at the Wilma Rudolph Events Center in Clarksville, Tenn.
Maj. Gen. Richard W. Thomas, Director of Healthcare Operations for the Defense Health Agency, served as the keynote speaker at the event, hosted by Fort Campbell's Armed Services YMCA.
Lander was among 16 medics honored, nearly half of whom served in Vietnam. The remaining honorees were Fort Campbell active duty Soldiers who served in the most recent conflicts.
"It kind of feels like everybody is doing what they think they should and what they would have done for their brothers in arms," Lander said, hearing similar stories from other medics. "It's not something that I feel like we as medics have gone out of our way to do, but it is something that we would do for anybody to our left and right. And to be recognized for it, it's a great honor by getting to meet some of these people here tonight. It's been a great event and a great honor."
While deployed to Baghdad and providing security, Lander's came upon a bombed building with people trapped inside. Although the building was deemed unsafe to enter, Lander repeatedly entered to rescue individuals. Even when one was trapped in a confined space, Lander crawled into the area to stay with the individual for nearly two hours trying to keep the person alive.
"No matter where in the world we send a service member, there will be a medic with him or her to make sure they are cared for, get the appropriate healthcare, and get the best care possible," Thomas said.
Thomas acknowledged that the Army uses symbols and it's part of the Army's proud heritage. The Angels of the Battlefield ceremony is another important symbol. The Angels of the Battlefield is another symbolization of America's ongoing support for our wounded, ill and injured; a symbol for America's commitment and dedication of ensuring our troops always have the best care possible, and it all starts with the best-trained combat medic.
"Tonight we are here to recognize the foundation of Army Medicine and the foundation of military medicine and that's the combat medic," Thomas explained.
"If we stopped our combat operations today, it would take us a good 10 years to clean up the battlefield for our wounded warriors. We must always remember that we can't forget them," he said, highlighting the need for ongoing medical care.
During Thomas' remarks, he referenced the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell's role to get the job done.
"When they need to get it done, they call in the 101," he said, referencing the command and control as well as the logistical support by equating the mission of the 101st support to prevent the spread of Ebola in Africa, as well as tackling traumatic brain injury protocols from the home of the 101st by sending treatment teams downrange in 2010 to prevent 4,000 medical evacuations from theater. These treatment protocols ensured Soldiers affected by blasts were pulled from the battlefield to rest, get tested and be provided treatment before going back to the fight.
Thomas also spoke about how the world has changed since 2009 when he left command at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital. "It's been dramatic," he said, comparing the $235 billion Army budget in 2009, to today's Army budget of $150 billion. This equates to a 36-percent budget cut for an Army at war.
"In 2009, we had 540,000 Soldiers on active duty; today we have 490,000 and probably going down to 480,000 or lower. For the first time in history we've reduced our force size while at war -- so less money, fewer Soldiers, more threats. This is unknown in our history."
Thomas emphasized that what has not changed is Army Medicine's commitment to take care of the wounded, ill or injured Soldiers. Thomas told the crowd that the severity of injuries is going up on the battlefield and the survival rate is also going up.
"It's not a coincidence; it's by design. We ask America's young men and women, your sons and daughters to potentially sacrifice their lives to defend this Nation. It's not too much to ask that we dedicate our professional lives to them to ensure they have the best chance of survival and the best medical care possible."
Military medicine, according to Thomas, has led the way, setting the standard for medical care in society.
"It comes from the frontline medic who has the experience. The medicine we practice today actually becomes the standard of care for tomorrow."
The 6th Annual Angels of the Battlefield combat medic honorees included: Michael "Doc" Balinger, Anthony "Doc" Best, Thomas "Doc" Davis, Rachel "Doc" Crabtree, Mark "Doc" Jones, Cody "Doc" Ford, Jim "Doc" Keeton, James "Doc" Groves, Andrew "Doc" Lovy, Kenny "Doc" Luna, David "Doc" Nelms, Francisco "Doc" Ramirez III, Lee "Doc" Pugh, Jeremy "Doc" Samuels, Travis "Doc" Lander, and Robert "Doc" Deleon.