FORT KNOX, Ky. – One hundred and thirty of the Army’s newest healthcare professionals raised their right hands May 20, marking the first-ever, nationwide virtual commissioning hosted by the U.S. Army’s 45th Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Scott R. Dingle.
Colonel Edward Mandril, commander of U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s Medical Recruiting Brigade at Fort Knox, welcomed the participants as thousands of Americans watched Gen. Dingle administer the oath to new physicians, dentists, specialty nurses, physician assistants, veterinarians and Health Professions Scholarship Program recipients spread across the United States.
“We have the privilege today of conducting a mass, virtual Oath of Office commissioning ceremony,” Mandril said. “You will soon have the opportunity to serve alongside these great Americans as healthcare officers in the Army Medical Department, answering the call to ‘conserve the fighting strength’ of our Soldiers,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Dingle urged the new officers to consider the nature of their service to country. He paraphrased a quote from Col. Albert J. Nahas, in his book Warriors Remembered: “We hear the call, we pay the price. Some volunteer, others come when summoned. All make a choice, standing straight to face the call. We hear the call, we answer with our service. We have no expectation but to serve where duty calls us. We ask for no reward except a nation’s thanks,” he said.
Dr. Benedict Awo, a family medicine physician currently finishing his residency at the Wellspan Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon, Pa., shared his reason for answering the Call to Serve.
“I decided to serve in the U.S. Army, because this is a country that has given me everything in my life. So I decided to serve this country and give back,” he said.
Dr. Rebecca Van Horn, a psychiatrist from Middletown, New York, also shared her reason for service.
“My decision to serve is a culmination of my personal and professional values,” she said. “For the last several years, I have run a program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago that serves active duty members, veterans and family members. Each day I am humbled by my patients’ courage, dedication, and commitment to get better. So I jumped at the chance to take the expertise I have developed and experience I’ve gained as a civilian doctor and demonstrate my commitment to my country and to the men and women who serve and defend it.”
The current COVID-19 pandemic has changed many ceremonies, from graduations to enlistments to commissionings, but this oath of office was no less momentous for the new Army officers. They join the more than 2,000 healthcare professionals the U.S. Army Medical Recruiting Brigade commissions each year to serve in the Army Medical Department.
A video of the Oath of Office can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/USAREC/videos/180122016607289/?v=180122016607289.
For more information about joining the U.S. Army as a medical professional, visit https://recruiting.army.mil/mrb/.