FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- Against the backdrop of the new Weed Army Community Hospital under construction in the distance and the bramble covered hills of the Mojave desert beyond it, Col. Jason S. Wieman, Weed Army Community Hospital (WACH) Commander, turned over his command to Col. Martin Doperak Monday, June 6 during a change of command ceremony on the tarmac outside of the WACH main facility.

During the ceremony Col. Doperak received the colors from Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Tempel, Jr., commanding general, U.S. Army Regional Health Command Central (Provisional) and Chief U.S. Army Dental Corps, signifying the responsibility he accepts as the new Commander of the Fort Irwin MEDDAC and WACH.

Speaking to the more than 300 WACH and NTC personnel in attendance after the traditional passing of the colors, Tempel, who presided of the ceremony, lauded Wiemans' many achievements he and his command team have achieved since his arrival in June 2014, and welcomed Doperak to his new command in the Mojave. "It is my privilege to be able to be here for two officers --two such exceedingly well-qualified and experienced officers - for whom I have so much respect, as we honor the tremendous achievements of an institution that does so much for its patients, for our military and for Californians as well." said Tempel.

Tempel elaborated on the accolades the WACH team earned under Wieman. "In March, Weed earned exceptionally high marks on their Joint Commission Reaccreditation Inspection and in support of the NTC mission COL Wieman's command has personally touched and assisted 19 Brigade Combat Teams in preparation for combat missions, in direct support of General Milley's number one requirement: Readiness." said Tempel, "He has increased the NTC Medical-Ready Units ten percentage points and taken them from the middle of the FORSCOM pack and elevated them to become consistently number one among their peers. Last December, after a nearly 15 year hiatus, Col. Wieman and his team brought back Expert Field Medical Badge testing to Fort Irwin and the NTC and beginning in the first quarter after his arrival Colonel Wieman has guided Weed through tremendous upheaval and personnel changes - and he has done so with an unprecedented overall Patient Satisfaction Rate that consistently hovers at 96 percent."

Speaking to the assembled after Tempel's remarks Wieman said to the Soldiers and civilians present that "It has been a genuine pleasure to lead the WACH team, and to work alongside a staff that is so able and so committed to serving Fort Irwin Soldiers and their families as well as the thousands of Soldiers that come to train annually at the NTC. The man who follows me, Col. Doperack, is exactly the right Army Medicine leader for the WACH and to bring this command into the new multi-million dollar facility you see behind me." Before concluding Wieman thanked and acknowledged the critical role that his wife, Delilah, played in his successful tenure at the WACH. "It could not have done it without her." he said.

In his first remarks as the new Fort Irwin MEDDAC Commander Col. Doperack expressed his enthusiasm to work in support of the NTC and Fort Irwin community. He mentioned how impressed he was with the MEDDAC team, their camaraderie and professionalism. "My family and I have seldom been given such a heartfelt welcome; I'm honored to be here today and to serve with you."

ABOUT THE WEED ARMY COMMUNITY HOSPITAL

The Weed Army Community Hospital (WACH) is part of the United States Army Medical Department Activity, better known to service members by its acronym MEDDAC. It is an award winning general medical and surgical hospital on Fort Irwin, California. The main facility was opened in 1968.

The approximately 500 service members and civilians who comprise the hospital staff provide 24/7 support to the National Training Center (NTC), and Fort Irwin Garrison Community, an approximate population (including rotational units training at NTC) of 13,000 civilians and military service members. The NTC is a major training area with over 1,000 square miles of maneuver areas, state of the art training facilities and ranges, with airspace restricted to military use. Although Fort Irwin and the NTC are operated by the U.S. Army, military from all the services, as well as foreign NATO military forces regularly train at the NTC prior to deployment.

Fort Irwin's isolation, harsh climate and austere landscapes make it an ideal site for a variety of realistic NTC training and exercises; consequently for the same reasons the Weed Army Community Hospital is a vital facet of support to the local community, of which approximately 64 percent of the non-rotational population households consist of a spouse and one or more children under the age of 18. (Attribution: 2010 U.S. Census).

Prior to becoming WACH Commander Col. Martin Doperak completed a Family Practice Internship and Residency and served as a Chief Resident at Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, NC. from 1998-2001. His first assignment was as a flight surgeon in 1/82nd Aviation Bn, 82nd Airborne Division, he was on his third training jump at Ft. Benning on 11 September, 2001. After two years as a battalion surgeon, Col. Doperak served one year as the 82nd Aviation Bde Surgeon before taking command of Illesheim Army Health Clinic in Germany from 2004-2007.
He attended the Army/Baylor program, earning a Masters of Healthcare Administration and Masters of Business Administration in 2009. He served in the Decision Support Center within the Office of the Surgeon General from 2008 to 2010. From 2010 to 2012, Col. Doperak served as the Deputy Commander of Clinical Services at Fort Lee, VA. His next assignment was as the first Command Surgeon for the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command at Fort Bragg, NC from 2012 to 2014. He was subsequently selected as the Director of the Department for Primary Care at the Womack Army Medical Center from 2014 to 2015, and afterwards attended the Army War College on a Fellowship at George Washington University in Washington D.C. which he completed in May of 2016.

A new $160 million, 216,000 square foot hospital, currently under construction is scheduled to replace the Weed Army Community Hospital in 2016. The opening of the new facility will mark a significant milestone in the United States Department of Defense commitment to delivering world-class healthcare to all service members and their families and underlines the importance of the NTC and the role MEDDAC personnel and facilities play in support of service members and their families at Fort Irwin.

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.