By Ms. Ashley Patoka (Regional Health Command Europe)October 9, 2018
A U.S. Army Medical Department Activity Bavaria logistician was recently named the 2017 Army Medicine Health Service Maintenance Technician of the Year.
As a Health Services Medical Technician, Chief Warrant Officer Richard Hendricks oversees the purchasing and accountability of medical equipment in the MEDDAC-Bavaria footprint and the Soldiers who keep it all operational.
Hendricks said he did not expect the recognition and attributes his success to his team.
"This is a great achievement -- it is very humbling," Hendricks said. "But I would not have received this award without the phenomenal team I have behind me here. Our logistics team is always looking for better ways to operate. They work day in and day out to make sure that our customers and our patients are taken care of."
In his nomination, Col. Mark Swofford, MEDDACB commander, said Hendricks "is the epitome of a leader and an expert logistician who always gets exceptional results."
Hendricks joined the Army as a 68A, or maintenance technician, and within six years had made it to the rank of staff sergeant before being selected for warrant officer school.
He said that a love for the field and a desire to influence change and improve the field drove him to pursue becoming a warrant officer.
"I love the job field and the very technical aspect of it," Hendricks said. "I really enjoy pulling pieces of equipment apart, seeing how they work, trying to get them to work better and really how we impact patient care and make sure the equipment is safe for patient use."
Every piece of equipment that touches a patient has to be looked at by a team like Hendricks'. The equipment has to be calibrated, undergo regular routine maintenance and if a piece of equipment goes down, it has to be repaired as quickly as possible to in order to ensure minimal disruption to patient care.
Swofford said Hendricks and his team routinely lead Army Medicine in accomplishing this mission.
"His leadership and expert management of the MEDDAC-Bavaria medical maintenance team resulted in unparalleled medical maintenance support to all of the medical and dental clinics in southeastern Germany," Swofford said. "Despite having to cover clinics in five geographically-separated communities, his team achieved and maintained a 100 percent completion rate for inspections, preventive maintenance, calibrations and scheduled parts repairs."
And while Hendricks enjoys all aspects of the medical maintenance career field, he said he really enjoys seeing big projects coming together. He particularly enjoys projects like "seeing a building go from a shell to a fully equipped building and patients being seen," he said.
This is something that Swofford says Hendricks excels at doing.
"During the past year, CW2 Hendricks has been instrumental to MEDDAC Bavaria," Swofford said. "Completing multiple facility upgrades, completing initial outfitting and operations of two military construction projects for the Ansbach and Vilseck Garrisons totaling over $60 million, and establishing two operational medicine clinics in Bulgaria and Romania to support rotational NATO forces."
Hendricks believes that his time as an enlisted medical technician contributes to his success in his current position.
"As a warrant officer, you really need to understand the complexities of what the technicians do, how they do it and how to help them," he said. "I think it has really helped me because some of the situations my Soldiers have run into I ran into as a tech. I can help answer those questions or I can mentor them on how to find the solution without giving them the answer -- so they can learn from that and become a better Soldier and leader."
Warrant officers are Soldiers who are specialized in a technical area. They make up less than three percent of the total Army. In order to become a technical warrant office, like Hendricks, a Soldier must have completed military occupational specialty training and have a documented proficiency in that specialty area, among other general requirements.