By Mikaela CadeMay 6, 2016
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Most people think the most important thing you do as a leader is tell people what to do, but in a recent trip to Fort Hood, Lt. Gen. Nadja West demonstrated another essential leadership skill: listening.
West, the 44th Surgeon General of the United States Army and Commanding General, U.S. Army Medical Command spent the day listening to U.S. Army Forces and Medical Command personnel discuss victories, challenges and opportunities for future success as they work to accomplish their number one priority: ensuring Soldier readiness.
In her assumption of command speech last February, West said, "We have a no fail mission."
West, known to articulate that Army Medicine's business is supporting the warfighter demonstrated her commitment to that, with an agenda focused on listening to service members from the operational side of the house.
Leadership teams from III Corps, 1st Cavalry Division, and Division West, spent time talking with the surgeon general about Soldier-centered care and potential improvement to the healthcare delivery processes that might enhance well-being and readiness.
West acknowledged the successes, and that ongoing improvements would be attained through communication and collaboration.
The surgeon general's day also included tours of an Embedded Behavioral Health (EBH) clinic, the Medical Simulation Training Center (MSTC) and the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center (CRDAMC).
While visiting an EBH clinic, Lt. Gen. West heard from staff members how the implementation of the embedded behavioral health clinic model has been beneficial because it allows Soldiers to receive care within the unit footprint.
"Our goal is to meet the behavioral health needs of the service member in their footprint, which can keep them from having to leave the unit while ensuring they get the help they need," Maj. Lataya Hawkins, Chief, Soldier Behavioral Health Service said.
"I appreciate what you do here; it's great," West said to the team while wrapping up the discussion at the clinic.
Her first opportunity to see the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center came at the end of the day.
During the hospital tour, which included stops in the intensive care unit, behavioral health and oral surgery, plus a whole lot of selfies with staff members, West never stopped listening to what everyone had to say. She acknowledged that everyone -- Soldiers, DA Civilians and contractors- are integral contributors to team success.
While West and Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Ecker, Command Sergeant U.S. Army Medical Command, bid farewell to Fort Hood with a, "Keep up the good work and, a hearty HOOAH," the lesson learned from the day's interaction could be summed as, whether assigned to a medical or operational unit, whether civilian or military - we are one team, readiness is our focus, and every team member is important to accomplishing the goal.