By Bernard Little, Walter Reed National Medical CenterAugust 15, 2019
With transformation and change as constant themes, Army Col. Marion Jefferson assumed leadership of Troop Command-North at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center during a ceremony Aug. 12 on Naval Support Activity Bethesda, home to WRNMMC.
Jefferson replaces Army Col. Tonya Dickerson, who had been commander of Troop Command since Aug. 14, 2017. Prior to that, she served as deputy director for nursing services at WRNMMC. She leaves Troop Command to become the deputy director for quality and safety at the U.S. Army Medical Command.
Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Michael Place, commanding general of Regional Health Command-Atlantic, served as the reviewing officer for the change of command. He praised Dickerson and Jefferson, calling them "extremely talented officers."
Pointing out that the Military Health System "is in the midst of an enormous transformation," Place emphasized "critical to any transformation are the leaders who are challenged with actualizing the many necessary changes. Thank goodness Army Medicine continues to provide gifted leaders like Colonel Dickerson and Colonel Jefferson, who understand how to lead during change; after all, change is the only constant."
The general said, "History has shown it's very difficult to win the nation's wars without a medical-ready fighting force," which is why readiness remains the number one mission, enabling enhanced patient care and increased skills and competencies of staff members.
Dickerson agreed, while urging the Soldiers she led during the past two years to "continue to embrace the jointness" necessary to accomplish the vital missions of the nation, WRNMMC and MHS. "We are better together," she said.
The colonel added that readiness is critical to these efforts, and service members must have "a strategic mission focus in this ever-changing, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment," harking back to the comments she made when she became commander of Troop Command.
"I'm humbled and honored to have had the amazing opportunity to serve as commander of Troop Command," Dickerson continued. "My initial goal upon arrival two years ago was to make Troop Command better. I think we, as a team, have accomplish that goal," she said.
"Our medical readiness compliance increased from 85 percent to 89 percent, and our deployable percentage increased from 89 percent to 91 percent," Dickerson stated. "We increased our weapons qualification from 50 percent to 88 percent. We created innovative solutions to streamline processes. We navigated the very complex implementation of the Military Assigned Personnel (MAP) process, which will shape the future of Army Medicine by moving medical personnel from the generating force to the operational force."
"Progress is impossible without change, and the future is change in the MHS," Dickerson concluded.
Jefferson also agreed that change is necessary for progress. "As the famous literary scholar Tupac Shakur said, 'You gotta make a change. It's time for us as a people to start making some changes. Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live, and let's change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn't working, so it's on us to do what we gotta do to survive'," he said.
"To be the new commander of Troop Command and lead the finest Soldiers in the world is my greatest professional honor," Jefferson continued. "Your passion and regard for the honor of this team is a credit to your professionalism and the clearest example of selfless service to something larger than yourselves," he added.
Jefferson comes to Troop Command after serving as deputy corps chief for the Medical Service Corps at Joint Base San Antonio/Fort Sam Houston, Texas. His other previous assignments included: executive officer to the MSC chief at JBSA/Fort Sam Houston; chief force provider for the AMEDD Center and School Capabilities, Development, Integration Directorate, JBSA/Fort Sam Houston; and chief, current operations Southern Regional Medical Command, JBSA/Fort Sam Houston. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College, Force Management Course, Senior Officer Legal Orientation Course and Medical Strategic Leadership Program. He earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Clemson University and master's degree in business administration from Webster University. He has also earned a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.
Troop Command at WRNMMC traces its roots back to Walter Reed General Hospital, which opened on May 1, 1909 in Washington, D.C. The Army Medical Center at WRGH was established in 1923 by order of Gen. John J. Pershing, creating Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Act called for realigning WRAMC with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, which formed WRNMMC and dedicated on Nov. 10, 2011.
Troop Command at WRNMMC was officially activated July 27, 2011 by the direction and order of the Secretary of the Army. The mission of Troop Command is to provide command, control and comprehensive administrative support to more than 1,500 Soldiers at WRNMMC. The command ensures operational readiness for all AMEDD personnel assigned or attached to WRNMMC and the Joint Pathology Center in order to provide a responsive battlefield force supporting day-to-day operations.