JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Brooke Army Medical Center added Air Force 4N0 Medical Technicians to the Medic Utilization Program May 7 during a ceremony to celebrate Nurses Week.

The program, now called Medic UP, which launched in January 2017, is designed to increase the readiness of enlisted medical professionals by allowing them to practice the skills they need to maintain their core competencies so they are ready if deployed downrange.

Since the program began in January 2017, 105 68W medics have achieved their Silver badges and 10 have received their Gold badge. In January, the Medic UP was extended to 68C licensed vocational nurses and they are making great strides to achieve their competencies as well.

The badge color helps staff members easily identify the enlisted service members' level of competency. A black badge signifies they possess basic skills. The silver badge shows they have demonstrated all the required competencies gained through direct patient care, but they have not yet completed the skills they need to achieve through validation exercises and in the simulation lab. Once a medic completes all their competencies they obtain a gold badge.

During the ceremony two gold badge holders were recognized, Army Staff Sgt. Stephen Craycraft and Army Sgt. Danielle Spencer. Two 4N0's, Air Force Airman 1st Class Emoni Covington and Airman 1st Class Lemuel Topacio, received their initial black badge.

"Training opportunities have always been made available prior to deployment, but none of them provided as much depth or hands on experience as the Medic Utilization Program," Craycraft said. "Because of the effort required, earning the gold badge was a rewarding experience."

Craycraft added that since Medic UP was initiated, he has witnessed enlisted medics display more confidence in their ability to handle medical emergencies and direct patient care.

Spencer agrees, "Having the opportunity to test my skills and competencies to obtain the gold badge has allowed me to gain confidence in myself as a medical professional."

"Acquiring the gold badge is a direct reflection of the hard work that not only I put in, but that the professionals around me put in when helping me further develop the skills in preparation for testing," Spencer said.

Covington said she's excited to be one of the first Air Force medical technicians to participate in the program.

"It will be great for professional development," she said. "It gives us the opportunity to grow in not just our military careers, but in our lives in general. It focuses on learning new skills, improving old skills, and maintaining our current skills."

Air Force Col. Stephen Donaldson, commander of the 959th Medical Group, praised the Medic UP.

"The Medic UP program is a phenomenal opportunity for the services in this building to work together," Donaldson said.

"The bottom line is we need every one of our medics, regardless of service, to max out their skillset, to be ready to go on a moment's notice," Donaldson said. "This program is going to help us get there, because we are actually going to be able to watch the development and hold individuals and units accountable and work together to maximize these folks ability to practice."

To emphasize this point, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Lorraine Hieskill, 959th Medical Group superintendent, read a recent battlefield scenario about how Army medics and Air Force technicians worked together at a hospital downrange to treat patients.

"This is important for all of us," Hieskill said. "We need to train each other like we have to save each other's lives. We are one team, one fight, it doesn't matter what uniform we wear."