By Mitch Meador, Fort Sill TribuneJune 7, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla. (June 7, 2018) -- For the first time, three consecutive commanders gathered for a Fort Sill Dental Activity (DENTAC) change of command.
Former DENTAC commander Col. Michael Roberts who now commands Dental Health Command-Central returned here to officiate the June 1, ceremony in Kerwin Auditorium.
It was three years ago that Roberts handed off the keys to then-incoming commander Col. Michael Dinos, who on this occasion passed another set of keys to the new DENTAC commander, Col. Ann Behrends.
For his next career move, Dinos is going to West Point, N.Y., to practice as a periodontist, specializing in treating gums.
"With the simple act of passing the flag, one person's command is ended and another person's command has begun," Roberts said. "(There's) so much responsibility and accountability associated with it; it's an amazing thing."
Roberts said it was in 2011 that he got the call that he had been selected to command Fort Sill DENTAC "and was pretty happy about it, because it was the right place at the right time for me.
Family in Kansas, kids in Texas, right in the middle; it was perfect. And you know, I had driven by Fort Sill probably 50 times over the past 25 years, but I'd never stopped up to that point.
"Had no idea what to expect when we got here. But little did we know what was in store and how hard it was to leave here three years ago. This is about the only assignment my wife has ever left -- and believe me, we've had some nice assignments -- that she actually cried on the way out of the gate. And she still cries every once in a while. This is a great place.
"And it's interesting that things come full circle sometimes. I took this command in 2012, handed off the command to Colonel Dinos in 2015, and have the very unusual pleasure of then handing the command from Mike to Ann in 2018. It's phenomenal."
Roberts told Dinos he is now a seasoned Army dental leader.
"I know this job has stretched you well beyond your comfort zone on many occasions," he said. "You've had some long stretches of smooth sailing and you had some rough waters. But what has been good for me is to watch you mature as a commander. And you've done very well. Thank you."
Dinos recently received the Order of Military Medical Merit in recognition of his being at the pinnacle of periodontics and being an enterprising Army and Army Medical Department leader.
"Mike, you are known by all as a man who is honest, dependable, trustworthy, not self-promoting, and genuinely sought the best interests of all your Soldiers and civilians," Roberts said. "I know you care deeply about every single one, and you treated them all with the same degree of compassion and correction as needed."
"Colonel Behrends, I am very thrilled to have you taking command today," he said. "Having gotten to know you pretty good over the last year, from Fort Carson, (Colo.,) still under my command, it's with assurance I can say, 'Fort Sill DENTAC, you are still under the leadership of a seasoned Army leader.'
"Colonel Behrends brings to this DENTAC a wealth of experience, having practiced dentistry in the private sector for 13 years, donned a uniform in 2004, and you have not looked back. And you are extremely well-qualified and well-rounded, and you will do well here," Roberts said.
Dinos said, "These past three years, I have had the honor and privilege to work with an amazing group of officers, enlisted, and civilians who kept a remarkable resilience and strong focus to the mission despite all the changes our unit underwent during the restructuring of U.S. Army Dental Command into a U.S. Army Medical Command directorate.
"Team DENTAC, I'm extremely proud of your accomplishments," he continued, highlighting the following:
- Fort Sill's dental readiness has been one of the highest within the Central Region and on May 30 it reached the 99 percent mark; it reached the 100 percent mark for two months in a row earlier this year.
- DENTAC's clinic in the 95th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception) area continues to seamlessly absorb the increase in basic training Soldiers.
- DENTAC's Oral Surgery Clinic in the Reynolds Army Health Clinic, despite currently undergoing a fixer-upper, has been a real workhorse and a significant contributor to dental readiness.
- DENTAC's one-year Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency has graduated 23 highly competent dental officers who will serve the Army well for years to come.
- DENTAC's headquarters staff has been the heart and soul of the organization, said Dinos as he went on to thank individuals who contributed to the success of the unit.
Dinos said his wife, Dr. Sara Steien, regrets not being present, but she is currently tending to their 19-month-old son, Rafael-Gregory, who had a mishap with a hot cup of coffee three days beforehand. He thanked her for her love and support during the past three years, and for her sacrifices through all the PCS moves.
"Little Rafael is the most precious and the best thing that's happened to us," he said.
He concluded by welcoming Behrends and her husband, Ron Bolin, to Fort Sill. The couple has two children and four grandchildren.
Behrends said she and her husband are very happy to be here, and they've been welcomed with open arms. Being a Texas girl, the warm weather makes her feel right at Caution-home.
"I've got the keys, we're ready to go," Behrends said. "I suspect the first thing on most of your minds is what changes will occur with this new commander. Well, as it's been said many times before, change is the only constant. So I can assure you that change will occur, I just can't tell you what that change will be. We live in a world of constant change and must adapt and move forward while still providing the excellent dental care that our Soldiers expect and deserve.
"My goal is to facilitate and help our Soldiers and our staff navigate that change and come out on the other side a stronger and even more cohesive team. It's an honor to serve warfighters and play a role in keeping them fit to fight."
"I look forward to working with you and supporting our providers and ancillary staff so that they may provide the best dental care anywhere, anytime," she said.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James Hall, Fort Sill Chaplain Corps deputy commander, added a touch of humor to the ceremony with his pun-filled invocation. \Emceeing the ceremony was Kim Manuel, who manages military human resources for Fort Sill DENTAC's personnel officer. She noted that annual care provided to the Soldiers of Fort Sill includes 55,300 dental appointments per year with a value of more than $25 million.