By Kirstin Grace-Simons (Madigan Army Medical Center)February 26, 2018
Command Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Gragg visited Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., during a trip to see his new area of responsibility on Feb. 12. Gragg assumed responsibility as the U.S. Army Medical Command's senior enlisted advisor on Nov. 3 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.
During his brief stop at the hospital, he had an office call with Madigan's Commander, Col. Michael Place, and Sgt. Maj. Kevin French, Madigan's chief clinical noncommissioned officer.
Gragg's investment in the junior Soldiers during his visit brought the words he spoke in his change of responsibility ceremony to life. "I am nothing but a collage of all the leaders who have invested in me," he said.
Gragg has also said of his approach to young troops, "As leaders, we need to always be providing our Soldiers with opportunities to excel."
Gragg also had a chance to visit Madigan's lab. Arriving late in the afternoon, he initially found the advanced individual training students gone for the day. Visibly disappointed to miss a chance to engage with young Soldiers, Gragg contented himself with an on-the-spot test of Spc. Melissa Swain, a medical laboratory specialist.
Gragg asked if she was well-trained. She said yes. He asked if she was competent. She said yes. Then he had her prove it.
He encouraged her to get after it like he was any other patient. He told her not to be nervous. She said she wasn't. As she drew his blood, he teasingly played the role of a slightly cantankerous patient.
As a vein presented itself nicely, he pushed her saying, "Don't go easy, challenge yourself!" She picked a less conspicuous vein.
When she was done, he popped out of the seat and said, "I didn't even feel it; I did make you a little nervous, though." She conceded that was possible. But she passed the test.
After finishing the draw and thanking Swain, Gragg returned to the back room where the students train. A dozen of them were standing eagerly waiting for him. He was pleased to see them.
He overstayed his allotted time to engage every Soldier individually. He asked about their hometown, their favorite sports team, and what led them to answer the call to duty.
A reminder from his assisting NCO that he was expected elsewhere provoked pushback. Though he expressed interest in visiting the next unit on his itinerary, leaving the young Soldiers he was currently involved with dampened his spirits.
Tight schedules and whirlwind trips are the reality for leaders like Gragg. Before leaving, though, he worked his way back through the line of junior enlisted, shaking every hand for a second time telling them, "I appreciate you."
Then he was off to immerse himself in the stories of another set of Soldiers.