LANDSTUHL, Germany – The governor of Virginia paid a visit to Virginia residents stationed overseas and other Service Members at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, May 20.
Gov. Ralph Northam, the 73rd governor of Virginia, stopped by LRMC where he previously worked as an Army Medical Corps officer three decades earlier. During the visit, Northam spoke with LRMC staff members and USO volunteers from Virginia at the USO Warrior Center located at LRMC, before touring the hospital’s Neurology, Labor & Delivery and Neonatal Intensive Care Units.
“(LRMC) was just a wonderful experience,” shared Northam, who left the Army as a major in 1992 before going on to practice in Virginia. “I know what it's like to be away from home, away from family while you all help support our Soldiers and their families. You make us very proud, not only in Virginia, but also in the United States.”
Northam, a pediatric neurologist by trade, was a physician at LRMC during the height of Operation Desert Storm. He witnessed LRMC’s transformation to its combat mission of treating ill, wounded or injured Service Members from across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, where Coalition Forces experienced approximately 300 battle-related deaths. During this time, Northam, who usually treated adolescents, shifted strictly to adult neurology cases, as he shared with current LRMC neurologists.
“It’s such a unique opportunity here with the footprint that (LRMC) covers,” said U.S. Army Maj. Rahe Hiraldo, chief, Department of Pediatrics and a child neurologist like Northam. “Being the solo neurologist covering Europe, Africa and the Middle East, we get to take calls from this half of the world. It’s good to get someone else’s perspective who was ‘boots on the ground’ in my position years ago.
“Having leaders like (Northam) who not only served but also still appreciate the importance of military medicine, come visit is very rewarding and encouraging,” added Hiraldo. “This is particularly important during the current challenging times in which the entire system is undergoing a major restructuration, during a global pandemic. Now more than ever we need leaders that care and take the time to come down to the trenches.”
Although Army Medicine Europe has changed drastically from Northam’s time here, LRMC continues to play a strategic role as the sole evacuation and tertiary referral center for five combatant commands and is the sole American College of Surgeons-verified Level III Trauma Center outside of the United States.