By Mr. Wallace McBride (Fort Jackson)August 9, 2018
Lt. Gen. Nadja West, Army Surgeon General and U.S. Army Medical Command commanding general, visited Fort Jackson's Medical Department Activity facilities Aug. 3, getting a first-hand look at the services provided on the installation.
"I'm fighting for you every day at the highest levels to make sure our senior leaders know what a treasure Army medicine is," West told an audience of MEDDAC Soldiers and civilian employees during a town hall meeting at the Main Post Chapel. "We've got the best medical care in the world and I've got the numbers, outcomes and results to back it up."
During the visit, West spoke with senior leaders, toured Moncrief Army Health Clinic, visited surgical facilities and labs, and hosted a Town Hall for staff members and Army Medicine employees to discuss priorities of Army Medicine.
West fielded questions about proposed changes to the Defense Health Agency, revisions to the Army Physical Fitness Test and pay disparities among certain medical careers. West's focus for her visit to Fort Jackson was to remind MEDDAC Soldiers and professionals about the roles they play in Army readiness.
Brian Sims, group practice manager of Fort Jackson's Reception Medical Clinic, said he welcomed West's visit as a chance for staff to show off their range of skills, which are honed daily by the constant flow of trainees to the installation.
"It's an opportunity to show exactly what the Fort Jackson mission is like for the medical clinic," Sims said. "We handle the initial entry training Soldiers when they first arrive to the Army and process about 48,000 per year." These men and women are put through a battery of medical tests for three days to make sure they are fit and able for Army training, he said.
"It's a focus on readiness," he said. "That's exactly what this clinic supports is Army readiness."
West said she was delighted by what she saw during her tour of the post's medical services.
"I saw a group of young trainees waiting to get their shots, and how the staff was interacting with them," she said. "They weren't treating them like numbers ... it was heart warming to see that they were treating them like individuals."
These first impressions were essential, she said.
"The first medical exposure (trainees) have is what you do," she told the town hall audience. "You treat them well, treat them with dignity and respect, and they're going to remember that throughout their entire careers."
Col. Chad Koenig, Moncrief Army Health Clinic commander, said West was responsible for giving him his second command and is one of the people who has helped make his career a success.
"The one thing I've heard from her since the first day is 'Health care delivery is fundamental,'" Koenig said. "The reason why we are here on Fort Jackson -- to support readiness. That's our primary mission."
West's focus is in support of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley's message about making readiness the Army's "number one" priority. West said Fort Jackson's medical activity plays a key role in achieving that goal. Whether they knew it or not, Fort Jackson's medical activity plays a direct role in America's national security strategy.
"At the highest levels at the Pentagon we're talking about what Army medicine does, the quality of care that's being given and the volume of people that you see here every day," she told the audience. "You're responsible for making sure that our Army has the right number of Soldiers needed to do our nation's bidding."