JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – As thousands of Soldiers begin to head home for Holiday Block Leave, Leaders are out in force to speak to them about safety, upholding the Army Values and building cohesive teams. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, Commander, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), made one such visit to the cadre and trainees assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE) at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas on December 17.
During this visit, his second to MEDCoE in 2020, Funk received a 70B Health Services Administration track brief and conducted leader professional development sessions with Basic Officer Leader Course students and MEDCoE battalion and company commanders. Funk also participated in a physical training and sensing session with Advanced Individual Training (AIT) Soldiers. At each event, Funk took the time to recognize Soldier and leaders for excellence with a commander’s coin.
Funk assumed command of TRADOC in June 2019. He is responsible for the training and education of more than 750,000 Soldiers and service members in 32 Army schools organized under 10 Centers of Excellence, including MEDCoE. MEDCoE was reorganized from the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) to TRADOC on October 2, 2019.
During each leg of his visit, Funk addressed the recent Fort Hood Independent Review Committee Report and Army senior leaders’ sentiment: leaders at every echelon have a role in driving culture. He described active and tangible steps leaders and Soldiers can take to build more cohesive teams, resulting in meaningful decreases in suicides and depression, racism and extremism, and sexual harassment and sexual assault.
“You are what’s right in our Army. Take care of each other,” he said.
The highlight of the visit was Funk’s attendance at the Best AIT Medic Competition hosted by 232d Medical Battalion, home of the combat medic. The Best AIT Medic Competition is a cyclic event internal to the battalion and not to be confused with the Army’s Best Medic Competition, which is only open to permanent party personnel, not trainees, and hosted annually by MEDCOM.
The competition among combat medic teams of four was attended by over 600 trainees and consisted of seven stations with 14 medical and warrior tasks to include high crawl, low crawl, grenade throw, casualty care under fire and tactical field care. The event concluded with Funk recognizing the winning team and presenting the Best Medic Streamer to the winners’ assigned company: Foxtrot Company, 232d Medical Battalion.
“On the worst day of somebody’s life, it’s going to be one of you who shows up and makes it better,” Funk told all of the trainees. “You are going to respond because you have been trained to, you’re disciplined, you’re tough, you’re physically fit, and you are going to go forward, and you are going to rescue the man or woman to your left or right, or it could be somebody like me.”
68W combat medics, the second largest military occupational specialty in the Army, administer emergency medical care at the point of injury in both combat and humanitarian situations. Medics are the Army’s first responder, charged with triaging injuries and illness to save lives. “On their worst day, you will be at your best. You are combat medics,” explained Funk.
He asked Solders to take extra care over the holidays to maintain focus on the Army Values and to think before they participate in any actions that are contrary to those values.
The majority of the nearly 2,500 MEDCoE trainees going on holiday leave will depart between December 18 and 22 and have a return window of January 2 to 8. In addition to the many safety measures Soldiers were already used to following when traveling, MEDCoE leaders and planners will take extra precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 for the safety of the Soldiers, as well as their friends and families to whom they are traveling home.
Maj. Gen. Dennis LeMaster, Commanding General, MEDCoE, said, “We are confident that, through Soldier discipline, engaged leaders and support of friends and family, Holiday Block Leave will be safe and successful for all of our trainees.”
To conclude his remarks, Funk told the group how proud he was of each of them and expressed his confidence that they would continue to do the right thing to keep themselves, their peers, their families and their communities safe.
“You think about what you mean to each other,” said Funk. “You get the opportunity to wear the jersey of the greatest team ever assembled on the face of the earth. Represent it well; take care of each other.”