SEMBACH, Germany – More than 150 senior Army medical leaders, staff members and guest speakers from across Regional Health Command Europe and other organizations participated in the command’s first ever virtual senior leader forum Nov. 3 - 4.
The purpose of the medical forum was to provide a sight picture of the current operational environment in Europe and discuss the challenges and way forward for Regional Health Command Europe and its military treatment facilities as the size, shape and mission of medical and operational forces in Europe is continually evolving.
”I am personally very proud of this team in a number of ways,” said Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Mark Thompson, Regional Health Command Europe commanding general and U.S. Army Europe command surgeon. “Your integrated support of U.S. Army Europe, our Soldiers, Civilians and families has been essential, not only in the COVID response, but your efforts have allowed U.S. Army Europe to maintain its operational readiness. You are doing great work each and every day.”
Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, U.S. Army Europe commanding general, gave a virtual presentation to RHCE leaders and commended the RHCE team for its efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.
“I have profound professional admiration for you all,” said Cavoli. “What you did for us this year was to keep our families safe and keep our Soldiers healthy; allowing us to preserve the readiness that we require to deter aggression on this continent.”
“Your work was really of strategic importance and it continues to be of strategic importance,” Cavoli added. “We didn’t really know much about this pandemic when we went into it. We didn’t fully understand how the virus was passed. We didn’t understand all the effects on our bodies.”
“Your ability to spot the important things to get done and to get after them, even while we explored and learned about the pandemic, was remarkable and it filled us with confidence,” said Cavoli. “I don’t just thank you; I express my professional admiration for the way you’ve conducted yourselves, and led us through this pandemic.”
Forum attendees also heard from the U.S. Army Surgeon General, who dialed into the forum from Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Va.
“Army Medicine has run to the sound of a silent gun called COVID-19,” said Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, U.S. Army Surgeon General and U.S. Army Medical Command commanding general. “This crisis educated others on the great things that you do and always make look so easy. You did a phenomenal job on the pandemic response. You showed that we’re the best. You are the center of gravity of everything that is happening in our COVID response.”
According to senior military health officials, as the Defense Health Agency moves toward its congressionally mandated goal of assuming administrative control over all military health clinics worldwide, Army medical personnel in Europe must continue providing operational medical support to U.S. Army Europe and other COCOMS across the theater.
“Our long term focus has to be the operational support that this region and its downstream units provide to USAREUR, AFRICOM, EUCOM, etc.,” said Thompson. “We do that in a variety of ways. Healthcare delivery is just one of the ways we do that. Our medical force also supports capacity building efforts with USAREUR and EUCOM priority missions and must be ready to support contingency operations.”
The last person to address the assembled group was Army Lt. Gen. Ron Place, director of the Defense Health Agency. Place talked to the group about where DHA is in the transformation process of assuming control of all military treatment facilities, but also shared his personal thoughts and philosophy on the role of military medicine in general.
“We always have to be aware that our true purpose is to support the warfighters, not just by the words we say, but in the resourcing decisions that get made,” said Place. “We have to ask ourselves, what are we doing to optimize readiness? What are we doing to protect our force?”
“This consolidation of medical assets strengthens our ability to provide ready medical forces to support global operations and improves the medical readiness of combat forces,” added Place. “Throughout the transition, the DHA will focus its resources on readiness and high-quality patient care.”