NORMAN, Oklahoma -- Almost 200 leaders from Regional Health Command-Atlantic's 20 subordinate units, including 14 military treatment facilities, Public Health Command-Atlantic, Dental Health Command-Atlantic and others, attended the region's annual Strategic Leaders' Training Event January 28 -- February 1 at the National Center for Employee Development.
The purpose of the four-day event was to discuss the significant changes that have already taken place within the Army's largest medical region as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act 17, a federal bill that specified the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense, and the future of the organization when health care that its remaining 13 MTFs transfers to the Defense Health Agency October 1.
Brig. Gen. Telita Crosland, RHC-A's commanding general, understands the importance of the transition of health care as the organization shifts priorities to Soldier readiness.
"Army Medicine is transforming to better support sustained readiness," Crosland said. "RHC-A 'pivot to readiness' provided us the opportunity to do an azimuth check to ensure a shared understanding as we lead through this dynamic period."
The region's largest medical center, Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was the Army's first medical facility to transition to DHA October 2018. While the leadership and staff experienced some transition pains, Womack's patients were minimally impacted by this change as expected.
Lessons learned at Womack will pay dividends for the remaining medical facilities within RHC-A and those within MEDCOM's other three regions - RHC-Central, RHC-Pacific and RHC-Europe.
Although, RHC-A and its subordinates were always responsible for readiness of Soldiers ensuring they were ready to deploy, fight and win the nation's wars, health care delivery was always at the forefront and readiness, although important, was second in comparison. However, that will no longer be the case eight months from now. Readiness will be the sole mission for RHC-A and MEDCOM.
Capt. Georgina Smith, commander, Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Troop Command-North, found the four-days of training informative and beneficial in regards to becoming a better leader.
"The biggest takeaway was the strategic way ahead to achieve and maintain readiness," Smith said. "The outward mindset discussed during the Arbinger training was outstanding in regards to interacting with others, especially your team. We're always taught to always place the mission first, sometimes we forget to take care of our Soldiers. The leadership I learned today reminded me that my Soldiers, my team have to come first."
Guest speaker Maj. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, deputy surgeon general and deputy commanding general (Support), MEDCOM, challenged the command teams to continue to lead and communicate. Getting both right are critical during the transformation of Army Medicine.
"There is going to be a change in Army Medicine, it's coming" said Dingle, former RHC-A commanding general. "Changing the mindset (of your) staff and the organization's culture are necessary to get this done, and get it done right."
Throughout the training event, commanders, command sergeants major and sergeants major received valuable training and information from multiple organizations including U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, RHC-A's own directorates and the Arbinger Institute.
The keynote speaker Ori Brafman, New York Times best-selling author, is considered an expert in leadership and organizational dynamics. Although he never served in the military, he co-authored the leadership book, "What the Post-9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About Leadership," with Gen. Martin Dempsey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Brafman exposed the attendees to practical, hands-on exercises to show them how crucial effective communication is at all times but especially during organizational change. Coupled with that is building relationships inside and outside the organization.
Brig. Gen. Michael Talley, RHC-A's deputy commanding general, agreed with the message of Brafman's presentation and the training tools validated what he has learned throughout his career. Building relationships and communication are key no matter the mission, no matter the environment.
"Our leaders must keep everyone informed, staff, patients, installation leaders and local, civilian leaders, as we transition from a medical-focused organization to an expeditionary force," Talley said. You can never over communicate, and I think our leaders not only learned that during the SLTE but will embrace that going forward. If that's their only take-away, we've achieved success and met the SLTE training objectives."