MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – Serving in a medical role within the military is possibly the most overtly people-oriented position possible. Putting on the uniform is always about serving the nation, but donning the Army Medical Command patch with its serpents and sword implying the caduceus symbol that represents all medical services, is specifically about helping people.
As Command Sgt. Maj. Albert Harris stepped up to take the Madigan Army Medical Center’s colors from its Acting Commander Col. Scott Roofe in an assumption of responsibility ceremony on November 9, he did so with people on his mind.
“I want to personally thank all the down trace command teams for taking care of our greatest asset- people. Know that I am here to work for you, ensuring that you have everything you need to do your jobs,” said Harris.
Hailing from the Northern California city of Modesto, Harris entered the Army as a combat medic in the late 1990’s and has deployed for both combat and peacekeeping operations to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. He has served in leadership roles in both medical and operational units and comes to Madigan from the command sergeant major post with the 5-306th Brigade Support Battalion, 188th Infantry Brigade at Fort Stewart, Ga.
Roofe welcomed Harris to the command team acknowledging the high standards Madigan holds for itself and Harris’ capacity to realize them.
“Madigan Army Medical Center is a crown jewel in the Military Health System and we are very privileged to be part of this incredible team. You’ll see, Sergeant Major,” Roofe said to Harris, “no matter the challenge, this Madigan team rises up to meet it with an undefeatable spirit. Although you’ve only been here a short time, I already know that Madigan and the JBLM community will benefit from your calm, professional demeanor and wise counsel.”
Traveling the world with his family and Harley Davidson motorcycle painted black and silver in honor of his favorite team, the Raiders, and recreating his Raiders-themed man cave as he went, Harris shared some of the perspective he has developed along the way.
“I feel that every interaction with somebody is a learning opportunity and should not be taken for granted. So, what I can promise you is that I will be a visible leader who wants to hear what you have to say, not just the good news or the bad news, but give me your recommendations for positive change within this organization,” he said.
He also gave a gracious nod to the senior enlisted advisor who filled the CSM role as he finished out his assignment in Georgia.
“I would also like to recognize Command Sgt. Maj. (Scott) Pierce for outstanding job that he has done as both the interim hospital command sergeant major and as the Troop Battalion command sergeant major,” Harris said.
The official slot of command sergeant major does not have as long a history at Madigan as the command itself, but the total number of sergeants major to serve as the senior enlisted advisor in a permanent capacity is nearing 30. There have been others who served on an acting or interim basis, and Madigan has always had a wealth of enlisted leaders, guiding the Soldiers and supporting operations.
As Harris steps into the role of senior enlisted advisor at Madigan, he takes responsibility for some 1,700 Soldiers; add to that thousands more civilian employees and contractors to take the total workforce over the 5,000 mark.
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