BAGHDAD (Army News Service, March 9, 2009) - With top leaders in the U.S. Army naming 2009 as the "Year of the Noncommissioned Officer," the Army's senior medic flew from Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to Camp Liberty to meet with Multi-National Division-Baghdad's Army Medical Corps enlisted leaders and Soldiers.

Command Sgt. Maj. Althea Dixon, senior enlisted advisor to the Army Surgeon General, U.S. Army Medical Command, paid a visit to medical Soldiers serving with the 299th Brigade Support "Lifeline" Battalion, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, at the Riva Ridge Troop Medical Clinic on Camp Liberty, March 5.

"One of the [reasons for] my visit was to see our medical people and to take a look at the services they are providing. Everybody knows the great medical support the Soldier's get when they are deployed," said Dixon, who was also there to update the troops on what's going on in the Army medical department. "As the senior medic in the Army, I try my best to meet and talk with each and every medical Soldier, or as much of them as I can, and hear their concerns and ideas."

Dixon informed the Lifeline leaders about the recently released Army Medicine Strategic Map, which shows the key tactics and objectives for the medical corps in terms of leading, guiding and developing Soldiers.

"I want them to know where they fit in that strategy," said Dixon. "Our mission is to train, develop and equip a medical force that supports full spectrum operations."

Dixon also detailed the various aspects of being a leader in a Warrior Transition Unit, where many Soldiers in the Army's medical field may find themselves working.

WTUs were created in 2007 to provide critical support to Soldiers wounded in combat and are expected to require at least six months of rehabilitation care and mental health management for themselves and their families.

"Working in a WTU is one of the toughest leadership jobs there is. In addition to taking care of injuries and medical problems they are taking care of emotional and family issues," said Dixon. "There are many challenges to being a leader in a WTU; it's not a 'take a knee' kind of job."

Serving as a medical Soldier working in combat operations because is a stressful job because of the long hours of medical service to Soldiers, Dixon said.

"I am so proud of what these folks are doing out here. They are well trained, they are highly motivated and they are all about service, so I am really pleased at what I have seen so far."

In a deployed environment, Soldiers have to constantly make sure they are "combat-ready" and Dixon said the Soldier-medics are one of the reasons why missions outside of the wire are successful.

"I think one of the reasons why Soldiers don't hesitate to serve is because if they are deployed and should they become ill or injured, there are great medics out there to make sure that they are taken care of," she said. "Army medicine helps keep the Army Strong."

(Spc. Dustin Roberts serves with the 2nd HBCT PAO, 1st Inf. Div., MND-B.)