FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley and Sen. Jerry Moran visited Irwin Army Community Hospital Aug. 23 alongside Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general.
Milley, Moran and Martin toured of the hospital with Col. John Melton, IACH commander. They met Soldiers and staff who gave updates about the status of the hospital since it's opening in October 2016. The tour took them through the pharmacy, labor and delivery and behavioral health departments. It also included discussion about the Warrior Transition Battalion and its proximity to the hospital.
"As folks in this community know it's taken awhile for Irwin Army (Community) Hospital, the new one, to be completed and up and running and we were knocking on the door of everyone at the Pentagon, but particularly the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Milley, to ask for his help in prodding the process along and getting this hospital open -- serving military men and women and their families at Fort Riley," Moran said. "So, one of the things I wanted to do was for Gen. Milley to see the results of his efforts here and at Fort Riley."
This was Moran's fifth visit to IACH and one he wanted to share with Milley to show him the successes of the evidence based design of the facility, he said.
During the tour, Milley asked questions regarding the capabilities and staffing of the hospital, as well as the number of patients seen and their relationship to Fort Riley or the armed forces.
"We want good, exceptionally high-quality care," he said of the hospital to Melton during the tour.
Moran, who is part of the Defense Appropriations Committee, said helping Milley and other Army leaders see the value and success of IACH, as well as Fort Riley as a whole, is important for setting an example for other installations to follow.
"As we look at the future here at Fort Riley, we want every person -- certainly in the Army, but at the Pentagon -- to know the about the value, the importance of the Fort Riley, to see it, to feel it, to know it and to be supporters of Fort Riley," he said.
He added this was also an opportunity for him to verify IACH had everything needed to provide quality health care to service members and their families, especially as a partnership between a recently opened Veterans Affairs clinic in Junction City, Kansas, and IACH is a work in progress.
Melton said he appreciated the directness of Milley's questions and their topics as they relayed how important the care of Soldiers and their families and the skill and morale of the staff is to the Army's top uniformed official.
"I think it's very important to recognize those that wear and have worn the uniform and special," Melton said. "To have the Chief of Staff of the Army and Sen. Moran to take time to visit our organization as well as our senior command, their presence was very powerful."
During the tour, Milley greeted staff and patients alike to ask their thoughts and experiences at IACH. When meeting two Soldiers from the WTB, he pulled them aside to talk in private.
Martin also talked with patients during the tour and said most people made positive comments about the facility.
"They love it," he said. "My wife is a patient, I'm a patient, and when you walk in, you see a facility that's gorgeous, it's built around healing and it's got a staff that's very caring."
As IACH approaches one year since the new hospital opened, Melton said it has been a time of growth and strength for health care at Fort Riley.
"It's been a fantastic journey," he said. "We've seen the opportunities being delivered by the facility in providing quality, safe care … We're taking full advantage of the evidenced based design of the facility."
He added he was grateful for the tour not only to show Milley, Martin and Moran the facility, but also to show the leaders, politicians and the American people the facility they helped create.
"What were charged with is first, to enable the readiness of our Soldiers to fight tonight and second, to enhance the resiliency of our families and our community to sustain that readiness of our Soldiers to fight tonight," Melton said. "That's why we're an Army hospital. We empower those that fight our nation's wars."