By Sgt. Steven LopezDecember 28, 2018
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Service members of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), tested their knowledge, patience, strength, and endurance as they sought to earn the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB), from June 5 through June 22.
The EFMB is a special skill badge that was established in 1965. It is earned through an annual qualification event and is awarded to military personnel who successfully complete a set of tests including performance based exercises that test medical knowledge and proficiency.
"It's not an easy badge to get statistically," said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Vecchione, medical platoon sergeant, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). "That's why people want to come out here and get the badge because it's a mark of excellence."
Soldiers participated in various challenging events such as a comprehensive written exam, three Combat Testing Lanes (CTLs), day and night land navigation, and a 12-mile road march. Soldiers had to complete these tasks with little to no error to receive a passing grade on each event.
The EFMB testing is a completely voluntary event and is not a requirement for the medical field. In 2013, the attrition rate for obtaining the EFMB was 19 percent, making it one of the most prestigious and difficult special skill badges to be earned.
"We usually expect 10 to 20 percent to pass," said 1st Lt. Taylor Allen, the officer in charge of CTL1 at the EFMB testing course.
The candidates received training at their home unit, then arrive at the EFMB testing course. The testing phase is five days but the candidates spent two weeks at the course getting familiar with the CTLs, conducted study halls, and observed the cadre go through the lanes to see how to properly maneuver the course.
According to Vecchione, you definitely have to want it. There's people out here who have tried multiple times to get their EFMB.
This training event challenges soldiers in medical tasks, Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, and Nuclear tasks and evacuation tasks, said Allen. It gives home units an idea if their medics are equipped for anything that the enemy can throw at them.
"To me it shows that I am proficient at memorizing things and putting my mind to the test," said Spc. Tyler Miller, medic, 1st Battalion, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. "I was very excited when I found out that I was going to be able to come."
Out of 107 candidates that started the EFMB testing, only 18 were honored to receive the coveted EFMB. Not only does this show how difficult it can be to obtain the EFMB, but it gives other soldiers an idea of what to expect as they train and prepare to take on the grueling challenge of the EFMB test course.