The Army Surgeon General and U.S. Army Medical Command Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Nadja West and MEDCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Ecker, visited the European theater July 15-18 to observe U.S. Army Europe's Saber Guardian exercise and to visit with Regional Health Command Europe staff and beneficiaries.

The visit included stops at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania where West observed the USAREUR Saber Guardian mass casualty exercise. This exercise tested medical forces capabilities to respond to multiple casualties in conjunction with their NATO and partner allies.

"It was very inspiring to see," West said. "It was gratifying just to see the training that all of our medical personnel undergo in their home stations to actually bring it all together in an operational environment and see them interoperable with our coalition colleagues," West said.

From there, West traveled on a C-130 to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and was provided a first-hand look at how patients are evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center following an incident.

The casualties on the C-130 were evacuated to LRMC as part of the RHCE Maroon Surge exercise, which measured RHCE's ability to expand its medical capabilities at LRMC in support of a surge of casualties brought on by an exercise conflict.

"I can't tell you how important it is to exercise our ability support to a large number of casualties if called upon, especially in an environment where we may be calling upon our coalition partners and our allies to help us," West said.

West and Ecker also took time during their visit to Europe to meet with staff and beneficiaries at LRMC and the U.S. Army Health Center Vicenza, Italy.

During a town hall meeting at LRMC, West told staff that they should be proud of themselves for the work they do on a day-to-day basis.

"Your mission here and what you do here every day is extremely important," West said. "Exercises like the one Command Sgt. Maj. Ecker and I had the privilege to see first-hand are incredible. I just want you to know how important you are to the readiness mission, and how important you are to national security."

Ecker echoed those thoughts while at USAHC-V, saying "the most fundamental principle of Army Medicine support is conformity and conforming to the warfighters' needs. But what makes the warfighters fight even harder is making sure we cover all of our bases -- and that is the families, and all of our beneficiaries."

West stressed the importance of the Army Medicine mission to provide quality health care to service members, their families and retirees.

"What we do and what we are here for is to take care of those entrusted to our care and to provide the absolute highest quality health care that we can, and we do."

She went on to say, "how you take care of your beneficiaries as they come through the door is of paramount importance. We are committed to that and ensuring they have access to high quality health care and they are treated with dignity and respect when they come through our doors. That is our goal and our focus, so we work every single day and strive as hard as we can to meet that very high standard."

West said the people who make up Army Medicine are the reason she has continued to serve for so many years.

"I've been doing this a long time -- 35 years of wearing the uniform of Army Medicine. And I stayed this long because of the people I get to work with - the wonderful professionals we have in Army Medicine. You've got a dedicated group of individuals who have options to do other things but who decide to serve their nation, to serve Soldiers and Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard - - and their families and retirees. What a wonderful job it is, and a great population we get to serve. So I just want to say thank you to our staff who carry out this mission every day."