On July 23, in a ceremony streamed virtually for the workforce and guests, Col. Robin R. Neumeier assumed command of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command’s (USAMRDC) U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD) from Col. Denis G. Descarreaux. The ceremony was held at the Institute’s headquarters on Aberdeen Proving Ground with only the key participants, such as the colonels’ spouses and, as a guest, APG Garrison Commander Colonel Tim Druel, present.
Brig. Gen. Michael J. Talley, Commanding General of the USAMRDC and Fort Detrick, Maryland, presided over the ceremony.
“ICD researchers and scientists respond to real-world events and are considered to be the Department of Defense’s subject matter experts in medical chemical countermeasures and chemical casualty care,” said Talley about USAMRICD’s mission. “It takes a strong commander to lead this important work and without a doubt Denis has been that leader.”
Talley also highlighted several accomplishments of the Institute under Descarreaux’s tenure as commander. Among them was a refined quality management program that implemented procedures, processes, and management controls consistent with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), thus allowing the MRICD to carry out its first GLP studies in support of a novel treatment that would provide protection against the neurological damage caused by nerve agent exposure.
“As a leader,” Talley continued, “[Denis] cared very deeply about each member of the team and consistently gave credit away to others for their accomplishments.”
Descarreaux is retiring from the Army later this year after 24 years of service.
Talley welcomed Neumeier, emphasizing her service in leadership assignments, particularly at the strategic level.
“She’s also known to connect well with others and she truly cares about people and mission,” said Talley. “In addition, she has tremendous work ethic, coupled with boundless energy.”
In his remarks, Descarreaux acknowledged several challenges over the last two years and commended “the dedicated men and women of this organization [who] remain steadfast in the pursuit of our DoD-unique mission.”
“I have the utmost respect for what you do each and every day,” he said.
Descarreaux also pointed out that, “ICD has maintained full mission capability throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to sustain the mission-critical work we do here at ICD. For this I am eternally grateful and proud of your contributions to the Nation’s defense.”
Admitting that the occasion was particularly emotional as the pandemic had denied him the opportunity to thank many of his staff in person, Descarreaux took a few moments to acknowledge each of his Command group, special staff, and office and division chiefs by name.
He called MRICD’s scientists the “heart and soul of the Institute.”
“All I can say is ‘Wow,’” Descarreaux said. “I challenge you to continue to innovate and push the envelope as you have always done.”
Descarreaux concluded his remarks by encouraging the USAMRICD Soldiers to “continue to strive to be the best you can be, look for opportunities and capitalize on them because you’re the future of our Army.”
Congratulating Descarreaux on a “very successful command” during a difficult time, Neumeier said, “You were absolutely the right person for this job at a time when ICD needed you the most, and I’m honored to pick that up and continue that.”
To the staff, Neumeier said, “I pledge today to work tirelessly on your behalf as we face the ongoing challenges of providing leading-edge medical capabilities to deter and defend against current and emerging chemical, toxic, and nonkinetic threats to our nation and our service members.”
“One mission is vital, our purpose is clear, and our determination is unwavering,” said Neumeier.
Neumeier, a native of Texas, entered the Army as a Nurse Corps Officer commissioned through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. She has a diverse background in both the U.S. Army Medical Command and the U.S. Army Forces Command and remains clinically engaged. She received her master’s in nurse-midwifery in 2001 from Medical University of South Carolina, and in 2017, she graduated from Old Dominion University in Virginia with a doctor of nursing practice in executive leadership degree.
Neumeier assumes command of the USAMRICD after completing a fellowship with the United States Army War College at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.
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