Army combat medics serve as a force multiplier

By Mr. Russell Toof (Regional Health Command Europe)February 28, 2020

Soldiers Compete To See Who Is 'Best Warrior'
U.S. Army Spc. Jesus Hernandez, assigned to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, provides care to simulated battlefield injuries May 15. The event was one of nine different ones that Soldiers competed in during Regional Health Command’s Best Warrior Competition. (Photo Credit: Russell Toof) VIEW ORIGINAL

SEMBACH, Germany - Army medics are an integral part of the military health system. The combat medic specialist, or 68 Whiskey, provides emergency medical treatment at the point of injury on the battlefield and at every stage of the treatment process.

Medics provide assistance to Army doctors in medical treatment facilities and in the field. Other typical duties are to instruct Soldiers on combat lifesaver/first responder training course and to manage Soldiers' medical readiness, medical supplies and equipment.

"With their extensive training and historic reputation for performing heroic, life-saving acts, combat medics provide a heightened level of confidence to our warfighters knowing a combat medic is close-by in the event of an injury," said Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Baller, the acting command sergeant major for Regional Health Command Europe.

Currently, there are just over 200 combat medics assigned to RHCE medical treatment facilities throughout the European theater.

"After getting injured early in my career and spending an extended period with the medical community I realized that I enjoyed medicine," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Luikart, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the educational division at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. "When it became time for me to reenlist, I was eligible to re-class and I made the switch to become a medic and I do not regret the decision one bit."

Luikart currently has oversight of around 15 medical programs at LRMC. He spends a majority of his time ensuring all of the courses are taught correctly and are up to date.

"As a medic, I have been assigned to infantry, cavalry scout, field artillery, and engineer units," said Luikart. "As a medic in those units you tend to be expected to be able to do the same job as the unit you are assigned to. I just have a special set of extra skills."

"I enjoy planning and conducting medical training," added Luikart. "Seeing that the knowledge and skills that I have developed are getting passed on to another generation of medical providers is a great feeling."

Another medic at Landstuhl echoed Luikart's thoughts about the benefits of the career field.

"I wanted to be an emergency medical technician before joining the Army and when I enlisted, a medic was the closest thing there was to an EMT," said Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Dowers, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the healthcare support division at LRMC.

"The first trauma patient I assisted when I was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, reminded me why I chose to be a medic," said Dowers. "Having the skills and ability to help those who were hurt validated that I had chosen the right job. Each subsequent deployment further validated for me that I had made the right decision."

The diverse backgrounds and combat-related experiences of medics enable the highest level of care to beneficiaries.

"Combat medics serve as a force multiplier within medical treatment facilities throughout Europe," said Baller.

In the deployed environment, medics provide care to service members when they are evacuated from combat operations due to extreme injuries. Occasionally, they have the opportunity to help improve the health conditions of the local population.

"The best patient experiences I've had are when I was able to do medical missions with the local population on deployments," said Sgt. 1st Class Josephine Jeter. Jeter currently works in the training and operations section of RHCE.

If they decide to leave military service, the skills Soldiers learn as a 68W can help prepare them for a career with civilian hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. Soldiers must also obtain certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians at the EMT level or higher.

"When I joined the Army, part of the reason I choose to be a combat medic was that my recruiter spoke to me about employment opportunities that existed outside of the Army that would capitalize on the skills I would learn," said Command Sgt. Maj. Thurman Reynolds, the command sergeant major for LRMC. "Obviously I stayed in and now 26 years later, I've loved my journey as a 68W."

Reynolds says the future is bright for Army medics.

"I think the future of this career field means medics will be better at providing prolonged field care," said Reynolds. "There's a lot of investment going into how to better train medics to be more competent for prolonged field care."

Related Links:

Regional Health Command Europe