FORT POLK, La. — More than 80 Soldiers from the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk’s 32nd Hospital Center, departed for a nine-month tour in Iraq following a deployment ceremony June 8 at Warrior Gym.Col. Lee Burnett, commander, 32nd HC, delivered the keynote address. He told those preparing to deploy that even though nine months might seem like a long time, the time would pass quickly, and they would develop lifetime friends.“The bonds you make during the next nine months will never break,” he said. “Those to your left and right are your brothers and sisters for life. When you need a hand, they will be there.”Burnett said TF Vanguard was in quality hands with Col. Paul Johnson and 1st Sgt. Demitrius Peggins.“These two leaders have been key to the success of the 32nd and 115th Field Hospital,” he said. “When this mission came down, they both stepped forward and took on the challenge.”Burnett thanked 1st Medical Brigade and JRTC and Fort Polk leadership for their support as TF Vanguard prepared to deploy. He closed by thanking TF Vanguard Family members who were unable to attend the ceremony due to COVID-19 mitigation protocol.“Thank you to each spouse, partner, son, daughter, mother and father,” he said. “Your support means the world to this team.”Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commander, JRTC and Fort Polk, addressed the Soldiers. He said as he walked through the ranks of the formation before the ceremony, speaking with those about to deploy, he was reminded of something he already knew about TF Vanguard.“I thought the phrase that best describes who you are to all of us is ‘an inspiring team,’” he said. “We’re absolutely inspired by your example.”Frank said the Soldiers in the formation to his front could deploy across the United States in any hospital, probably making a salary much higher than what they make in the Army.“But your dedication to duty is what drives you,” he said. “Your teamwork is inspiring.”Frank pointed out that as a battalion commander in Iraq, it was the medical professionals who were unsung heroes.“They provide the confidence for those in front line units to go out every day to execute their mission,” he said. “You may not know you provide that kind of confidence for every unit in the Army, but you do.”Frank said he could not be prouder of the 32nd HC and TF Vanguard.“You’re going to go over there and represent JRTC and Fort Polk and III Corps in an exceptionally professional manner,” he said. “Everyone will know the mark of professionalism you leave on that theatre as you deploy back here to JRTC and Fort Polk.”He reminded the deploying Soldiers that while they are gone, their Families would be taken care of.“Don’t be shy about letting your chain of command know if your Family needs assistance,” Frank said. “That’s our job while you’re deployed.”Col. Paul Johnson, 32nd HC, deputy commander for nursing and commander, Task Force Vanguard, said his team would assume the combat support hospital role in Iraq.“The big thing (facing us) will be infection control, because of being in a tent and not having as controlled an environment as in a hospital,” he said. “But we’re trained and ready. We’ll pull it off. We always do.”Maj. Tyler Powell, an internal medicine doctor with 32nd HC, said this is his second deployment.With a young daughter and son, he said he’s fortunate to have a strong spouse.“I’ll try to stay as connected as possible, through FaceTime and calling,” he said. “My wife just separated from the Air Force so she understands deployments. She’s definitely the rock for our house. I’m blessed to have her.”