By Mr. Danny L Paul Farley (Army Medicine)March 29, 2017
As part of her ongoing Army Medicine command visits, Lt. Gen. Nadja West -- the 44th Army surgeon general and general of U.S. Army Medical Command -- toured the Fort Meade Medical Department Activity and Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center on Friday, Mar. 24.
As the Army surgeon general, West advises the Army chief of staff and the secretary of the Army on all issues regarding Army health care, and is directly responsible for the creation of policy and the management of the Army health care system.
West kicked off her Fort Meade visit with an office call on Col. Daniel G. Bonnichsen, commander of MEDDAC and Kimbrough, followed by receiving a command overview brief attended by key command leadership.
"My objectives for being here today at Fort Meade are to visit the great Army Medicine team that we have here to see if there are any concerns they have, or if there is anything I can help them with at the MEDCOM Headquarters," West said.
"[Also], just to be able to go around and talk to the staff a little about our mission, vision and how we support our Army's requirements and mission and vision, and the joint force."
West said that her priorities are the same as those of the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley.
"General Milley always tells us that readiness is number one and there is no other number one," she said. "So, of course, we extrapolate that to the medical mission.
"We must always be ready to support whatever General Milley needs, what our Army needs, and what our joint force needs with regards to medical support and capabilities."
The Fort Meade MEDDAC is comprised of five subordinate clinics in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and is ultimately responsible for the care of more than 143,000 beneficiaries.
During her tour of Kimbrough, West received a close-up view of most of the primary care clinical areas. Care was taken in planning the tour to minimize impact to patient care.
West welcomed opportunities to meet and talk with staff members in brief one-on-one encounters.
Also included in the day's events was a leadership forum and lunch with many of the Kimbrough officers and noncommissioned officers, which included an open discussion that prompted questions.
The centerpiece of the visit was a standing-room only town hall where Kimbrough staff members could hear firsthand Army Medicine's top leader thank them for their work and dedication and invite any questions they might have.
The hour-long event culminated with most of the enthusiastic attendees shaking the hand of the Army's first black surgeon general and its first black female three-star general.
For many, the highlight of the day was being afforded the opportunity to take a selfie with the surgeon general.
As Women's History Month winds down, West offered advice for young women in the military given that she has been called a trailblazer in the armed forces.
"It's hard to see myself as a trailblazer because I stand on the shoulders of a lot of great folks and great women who have come before me during times when it was really, really tough to do what they were doing," she said.
"My advice to any young woman would be: Don't settle for anything less than you are capable of doing, work hard and take advantage of all opportunities. And make sure you prepare yourself for any opportunities that may come your way."