FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Nearly 40 Soldiers from Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and Fort Campbell-based units prevailed and earned the Expert Field Medical Badge after a 13-day qualification period on Fort Campbell, Oct. 24 to Nov. 5.
EFMB is a special skill award for Soldiers from medical military occupational specialties and officer areas of concentration.
“The Expert Field Medical Badge, is that coveted badge for all medical personnel and it signifies to others the proficiency that these badge holders now have and those wartime skills whether they are technical or tactical for that readiness that they need to perform when they are down range,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rebecca Booker, senior enlisted leader for Regional Health Command-Atlantic, the organization responsible for all Army medical treatment facilities east of the Mississippi River.
Booker joined BACH’s leadership team and fellow Soldiers at the parade field as EFMB candidates crossed the finish line after a timed ruck march. Completion of the 12-mile ruck in under three hours was the final event Soldiers had to complete to earn the EFMB.
In addition to an expert weapon qualification prerequisite and command recommendation, EFMB qualification includes common Soldiering skills, a fitness test and three combat testing lanes. The lanes are used to evaluate each candidate’s proficiency of Tactical Combat Causality Care, evacuation tasks, Warrior skills and communication tasks.
“We had a PT [physical training] test on day one and we had land navigation, day and night, on day two. Then combat testing lanes one, two and three, and finally the 12-mile ruck and all of them were really difficult. Even the standardization week was physically demanding,” said Pfc. Sangoh Choi, a behavioral health technician assigned to BACH.
The first phase of EFMB is composed of a standardization phase where graders demonstrate the acceptable method for completing each task. This affords each candidate the opportunity to take notes, ask questions and get hands on practicing the standard before the qualification phase.
“To be honest I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but my first sergeant always told me, ‘just one day at a time’ and I just thought of it one day at a time, and, that’s how I made it this far,” Choi said after completing the final event.
“I didn’t know I had this in me. EFMB really tests you on another level and you have to really dig deep in your mind and be there mentally,” said newly qualified EFMB recipient Spc. Joshua Martinez, who serves as a dental technician at the Fort Campbell Dental Activity. “Yes it’s physically demanding, but it’s more mental than physical in my opinion.”
Both Martinez and Choi represented the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity Fort Campbell, which includes Soldiers from BACH and the DENTAC, during EFMB. Another 36 Soldiers from units within the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell rounded out the qualifiers.
“I feel extremely proud of Spc. Martinez and Pfc. Choi for earning their EFMB badge. Earning the EFMB badge is extremely hard and for them, as junior Soldiers, to be able to get it on the first try speaks volumes of their resilience, mental, and physical attributes,” said MEDDAC and BACH senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Santiago. “These young Soldier-Medics are now among the elite healthcare professionals in our nation's military and the future of Army Medicine. From now on, they can call themselves expert field medics.”
More than 80 Soldiers set out to qualify for EFMB during this period. It is considered one of the most difficult badges to earn in the Army and it is not uncommon for Soldiers to require more than one attempt to earn the badge. With each attempt, candidates improve their skills, further enabling the Army’s ready medical Force.
“I absolutely could not be prouder of the Soldiers of our MEDDAC, even the ones who started off and did not end up achieving the badge. They all got a lot smarter, better and more proficient at their jobs. Everybody who came out became a better medical professional today,” said Col. Patrick T. Birchfield, hospital commander.
Any Soldier in a medical military occupational specialty or officer area of concentration meeting candidate requirements can attempt to earn the badge.
“Today was a phenomenal accomplishment not just for the Regional Health Command-Atlantic and MEDCOM, but all across Army Medicine,” said Booker. “It’s setting standard and a high bar for others.”