FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- Lieutenant General Nadja Y. West, the U.S. Army's first female African-American lieutenant general, 44th Surgeon General and the highest-ranking woman to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point visited the Weed Army Community Hospital (WACH) on Fort Irwin, April 7 - 9 to tour facilities, meet staff members, speak with patients and consult with leadership at the WACH and National Training Center (NTC).
Dual-hatted as the MEDCOM commanding general, West oversees more than 48 medical treatment facilities providing care to nearly four million active-duty members of all services, retirees and their family members. She is also responsible for development, policy direction, organization and overall management of an integrated Army-wide health service system and is the medical materiel developer for the Army.
West regularly advises the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff in relation to all health care matters in the Army, in addition to overseeing development, organization, policy direction, and other matters relative to the Army-wide health care systems.
While visiting Fort Irwin Lt. Gen. West conducted a town hall open to hospital staff and community stakeholders, toured WACH facilities and spoke with patients, met with key leaders at both the WACH and NTC, surveyed the new hospital construction site from the air and observed a medical evacuation exercise in the NTC training area.
"Seeing Soldiers putting their knowledge, fitness and ingenuity into action, watching them build confidence through experience and being challenged by realistic training scenarios, that's what I want to see first-hand." West paused and added with satisfaction, "It's also an opportunity for me to speak with and listen to what Soldiers are saying about readiness and training, which I enjoy."
The goal of the training scenario -- a petrol generator malfunctions, explodes and causes 8 immediate heavy casualties requiring a variety of treatments and triage management - is to test readiness as well as hone emergency medical skills among the participating 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Div. service members.
Before departing Fort Irwin West was also keynote speaker and special guest at the 2016 Fort Irwin 2016 MEDDAC Ball. Addressing the more than 200 event attendees West outlined her goals for MEDDAC. "Readiness is number one for me," she said. "Soldiers should stay ready, relevant and reliable."
"The health, resiliency and well-being of service members in our care - as well as the family members who support them - is a sacred trust and I am committed to ensuring proper staffing and support to accomplish it here at Fort Irwin and throughout my command." said West.
"I am very glad to be here, to have met with you and to have seen the work and training you do in support of Soldiers, which I am very proud of; Fort Irwin may seem isolated to many who come here." West said, referring to Fort Irwin's austere landscape and remote location in the Mojave Desert. "The work you are doing here is important to our citizens, to the U.S. Army, to me and to every Soldier in our ranks. Thank You for all that you do, today and every day."
To learn more about the people and facilities of the Weed Army Community Hospital and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin visit the official NTC website at www.irwin.amedd.army.mil.
MEDCOM is composed of three regional health commands, the Medical Research and Materiel Command, and Army Medical Department Center and School. It is one of 11 direct reporting units in the Army. It manages a budget of more than $12.8 billion and provides medical care for approximately 4 million eligible beneficiaries' worldwide active-duty service members, retirees and their family members. The command also oversees graduate medical education, health professional education, medical research and training of all combat medics.
MEDCOM is commanded by the Army Surgeon General, currently Lt. Gen. Nadja West.
The Surgeon General is also head of the U.S. Army Medical Department (the AMEDD). West was sworn in as the 44th surgeon general of the Army and promoted on February 9, 2016 to her current rank.
In peacetime MEDCOM maintains day-to-day health care for soldiers, retired soldiers and the families of both. Despite the wide range of responsibilities involved in providing health care in traditional settings, as well as on the battlefield, quality of care compares very favorably with that of civilian health organizations, when measured by civilian standards, according to findings of the DoD's Civilian External Peer Review Program (CEPRP).
In the event U.S. Army field hospitals deploy, most clinical professional and support personnel come from MEDCOM's fixed facilities. In addition to support of combat operations, deployments can be for humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, and other stability and support operations. Under the Professional Officer Filler System (PROFIS), up to 26 percent of MEDCOM physicians and 43 percent of MEDCOM nurses are sent to field units during a full deployment. MEDCOM also provides trained medical specialists to the Army's combat medical units, which are assigned directly to combatant commanders.
Lt. Gen. West is a Washington D.C. area-native and holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Doctorate of Medicine from George Washington University School of Medicine. She has held previous assignments as Commanding General, Europe Regional Medical Command; Commander of Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Division Surgeon, 1st Armored Division, Army Europe and Seventh Army, Germany.
To learn more about the U.S. Army Medical Command visit their website at www.ArmyMedicine.mil