FORT BENNING, GA – “I have a quote on my business card that we sort of coined around here. ‘Fort Benning Georgia, the muscular skeletal center of the universe,’” shared Martin Army Community Hospital Department of Rehabilitative Services Chief Maj. Travis Robbins. “Because Fort Bragg they always call themselves the center of the universe.
“No, BMACH is the center of the universe,” asserted Robbins. “I have found that my roles and the people here at Benning have been the best that I’ve worked with in my 20 years in the Army. And I’ve worked at some great places.”
The 47-year-old admitted he kind of fell into his specialty. And that lucky happenstance has been true for most of his career progression through postings at Walter Reed, Fort Riley and Fort Jackson.
“I actually enlisted in the Army in 2001 as a medical laboratory technician because I wanted to be a PA (physician assistant), not knowing the Army had a PT (physical therapy) program,” said Robbins. “A friend of mine, we were lab techs together, he came into my cubicle and asked ‘Do you know the Army has a PT program?’ And it was like the world opened up. I didn’t even know that was an option.”
Robbins went on to earn his doctorate from the Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy in 2007. It was a fitting academic bookend to the baseball player who started studying sports medicine as an undergrad at Central Michigan University, before transitioning to education and teaching for a few years, before ultimately joining the Army and realizing medicine was his calling.
“My brother is a paramedic and a police officer, my parents were EMT intermediate/paramedics. So, we always talked about medicine,” said Robbins. “And I’ve always been around sports. I chose physical therapy because of the sports medicine.”
Robbins started at BMACH as the Physical Therapy Department Chief in July 2018, before taking over as the Chief of Rehabilitative Services. It has been awhile since Robbins took care of Soldiers fulltime.
“I miss helping people hands-on. But what I found is, I was able to make the jump into admin because I feel like I’m helping people, patients and my team, just in a different way,” explained Robbins. “I like the problem solving that comes with admin. I always like seeing how you can create relationships that make things better. Because if a system doesn’t work well, you really can’t help the most people.”
The self-professed introvert said the toughest part of retiring on September 1st, after two decades of service, will be leaving the people.
“Best thing about my job is working with a great team. It’s the people you always remember. That’s been the highlight of my career. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been around really great people that have made me better.
“I’ve always grown up on a team, baseball, basketball, whatever the sport was. And like a lot of Soldiers, on a team you rely on each other, you help each other, you like to go the extra mile, because that’s how you succeed.”
Robbins said the biggest misconception patients have is just how hard BMACH staff work to make providing quality healthcare seem so effortless.
“Healthcare is a really hard job. If people knew how passionate our staff was they would really appreciate getting healthcare here. Because I know I do.
“I would like to give a shout out to our MSAs (medical support assistants) in the Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS). They are some of the best. I think the patients have a great experience in all of the DRS because everybody is working hard.”
Ever the dedicated family man, reflecting on his Army career, Robbins said his lowest point was watching his wife and children drive away when he deployed with the Big Red One, 1st Infantry Division, 4th Brigade.
“Claire was 3 going on 4, Gavin was in 1st grade so he was 7 or 8 maybe. It was hard. That was tough. I was fine until the car started to drive away.”
His dedication to family, grounding in religion and lucky happenstance is again guiding the next chapter of his life. After retiring, Robbins will serve as the campus minister for St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School.
“Father Robert, the lead pastor in the parish came up to me one day and said I’ve got a great role I think you would be perfect for. It just came out of nowhere. It’s something new that I think will be very exciting, inspiring and rewarding.