By Tish Williamson, U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Director of CommunicationsSeptember 16, 2019
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- The Army's medical training and education institution widely known as "AMEDD Center and School" officially changed its name to the "U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence," or MEDCoE, Sunday, September 15, 2019.
Maj. Gen. Patrick D. Sargent, commander, MEDCoE, hosted a ceremony to commemorate the historic event on September 16. Sargent, alongside Cmd. Sgt. Maj. William "Buck" O'Neal, unveiled the new designation on the command headquarters building located on Stanley Road at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
MEDCoE replaced the longer designation of U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, Health Readiness Center of Excellence, or AMEDDC&S HRCoE, which has been in effect since 2015.
The new designation recognizes the reorganization of the former AMEDDC&S HRCoE from the U.S. Army Medical Command, or MEDCOM, and further solidifies the center's alignment to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC.
The CoE's transition to TRADOC began on October 19, 2018 and will be complete as of October 2, 2019.
During the event, Sargent described what the occasion and the reorganization as a whole means to him, an Aeroedical Evacuation Officer with over 34 years of service to Army Medicine. Years before leading the organization, he attended his Captains Career Course and Basic Officer Leadership Course at the school and has served in MEDCOM at least five times in his career, most recently as the Deputy Commanding General for Operations. Sargent was also the 18th Chief of the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps.
He said that the organization is one that all Army Medicine Soldiers have been in, but it is the least understood. Sargent explained that he didn't fully grasp how big the organization's mission was until he took command. "The breadth and depth of our reach is staggering; this is the entry point for all members of the Army's Medical Department."
The CoE includes two medical brigades, a Noncommissioned Officer Academy and dozens of staff directorates, such as the Directorate of Training and Academic Affairs, the Directorate of Simulations, the Army Medical Department Personnel Proponent Division, and the newly created Fielded Force Integration Directorate, and the newly created Fielded Force Integration Directorate and TRADOC Capability Manager-Army Health Systems. As part of the reorganization, MEDCoE will also create a Directorate of Training and Doctrine as is common in most of TRADOC's CoEs.
Together they train and educate nearly 30,000 soldiers in over 360 training and education programs annually that include everyone from combat medics, doctors, surgeons, nurses, veterinarians, dentists and physician assistants to aeromedical evacuation pilots, food inspectors, medical technicians, and hospital administrators. MEDCoE boasts five master's degrees, nine doctoral programs and the largest civilian-accredited service school within the Department of Defense.
Despite the name change and any subsequent reorganization, MEDCoE's mission remains to envision, design, train, educate and inspire the world's premier military medical force to enable readiness and strengthen America's Army.
Sargent told the audience of nearly 400 military and community leaders along with MEDCoE staff and faculty in attendance, "Few have the privilege of training these soldiers, preparing them to negotiate and influence the fragile boundary zone between life and death."
He said he is extremely humbled to be part of a storied lineage of commanding generals and school commandants of such an important organization with a rich and proud history.
The organization has called Fort Sam Houston home since 1946, and the headquarters building, though previously inscribed with "Academy of Health Science," has been in its current location on Stanley Road since 1991.
The Medical Center of Excellence traces its origin to the Medical Field Service School, established nearly 100 years ago in 1920 at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, and will celebrate its centennial anniversary in June of next year.
"Nearly 100 years later, we all know that the Army Medical Center of Excellence shares a beginning with Army Medicine," said Sargent. Saving lives on the battlefield, however, has been a critical force multiplier much longer than organized training explained Sargent, "From the start, what we now know as Army Medicine-which we are all a part of-has been, and still is, a vital aspect of the Army's success dating back to when it was first established, June 1775."
Sargent recalled how MEDCoE and Army Medicine have enjoyed many advancements and success in developing a system that has achieved the lowest combat casualty rate in the history of modern warfare with a goal of zero preventable deaths on the battlefield.
In recent years Army Medicine has seen advances in hemorrhage control, burn care, amputee care, HIV and Zika vaccinations, brain injury evaluation and treatments, and regenerative medicine.
Despite these past triumphs, Sargent said, "It is our responsibility to remain alert and continually adapt and innovate so that the legacy continues, for this and future generations."
Sargent, who has been in command since June 1, 2018 and is expected to change command January 2020, told the group that the name change and reorganization endeavors are in direct support of the Army's modernization effort to ensure the organization "can adapt, evolve, innovate and fundamentally transform at the speed of modern, or future, warfare so that we can win and win decisively."
Sargent believes that how Army Medicine responds to the effects of a near-peer, peer-peer adversary in Multi-domain operations depends on adaptive training.
"That's what this redesignation is all about," said Sargent. "Defining a successful path to the future so our soldiers can complete their mission and come home."
Sargent urged the audience to view the redesignation and any future reorganization in Army medicine as part of the Army's modernization effort in direct support of the warfighter.
"When you do, you will realize this change is less about us and all about them: the American soldier."
Maj. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the acting Surgeon General of the U.S. Army and acting commander, MEDCOM, alongside Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Gragg, command sergeant major, MEDCOM, were two of nearly two dozen current or retired Army Medicine general officers and senior command sergeants major in attendance to witness the name change.
"Today's ceremony reflects the ongoing transformation of Army Medicine to ensure we sustain our ability to provide the best in health service support to our Soldiers on the battlefield and those we are entrusted to care for at home," said Dingle.
"The name may have changed, just as the patch did several months ago, but the mission remains the same. Maj. Gen. Sargent, Cmd. Sgt. Maj. O'Neal, and the MEDCoE will always be the center of gravity that trains and educates the most capable military medical force ever fielded," he concluded.
Also during the ceremony, to further mark the milestone, Sargent and O'Neal conducted a cake cutting, alongside the newest and most senior personnel in the command, as is an honored military tradition.
Immediately following the ceremony, the MEDCoE command team hosted an internal town hall to answer reorganization and redesignation questions from MEDCoE commanders and staff directly. During the town hall Sargent reiterated his vision for the command.
He said, "When I was fortunate enough to take this command, I asked every member of the organization to commit to our vision of being the foundation upon which Army Medicine is built, sustained and transformed."
"However," he acknowledged, "change is not executed by vision alone; it is executed by people, the Army's most precious resource."
At the town hall, as he did earlier to close the name change ceremony, Sargent explained why he feels only people who have buy-in to the reorganization can bring actual change, not just strategy or a well-articulated plan.
"That's why I hope most of all, during this short time together," concluded Sargent, "that you can now see how you can be a part of this change, and someday, you can say the Army and our Nation is better, because I was there."
To learn more about the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence's history, previous name changes, or current organization, visit, www.medcoe.army.mil.