JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Center on June 2, 2021. The ceremony, hosted by the MEDCoE Command Team, Maj. Gen. Dennis LeMaster and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Clark Charpentier, was held outside of the DEI Center’s main office, 3250 Koehler Road, Building 1350, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
With the establishment of the center, MEDCoE’s main three People First assets, the Command Chaplain, Equal Opportunity (EO) and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) sections, are now in one central location within the command footprint. The MEDCoE DEI Center is organized to better help operationalize the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Annex of the Army People Strategy published in September of 2020. The DEI Center serves as the principle source of education and training support for leaders and as a resource center for Soldiers, DoD Civilians, and dependents, aimed at combating harmful behaviors, like racism/extremism, sexual assault/harassment and suicide, which erode individual and unit resilience and readiness.
LeMaster, who directed the establishment of the center in February 2020, urged the dozens of staff and unit leaders in attendance for the ribbon cutting to spread the word about the grand opening to the thousands of employees, permanent party cadre and Soldiers in training within the command. With a staff of over 3,000 personnel, MEDCoE trains and educates nearly 32,000 Soldiers annually in 257 training and education programs in support of the Army’s medical military occupational specialties and areas of concentration.
“Proliferate the information throughout the ranks,” LeMaster said. “I am counting on leaders to ensure those who need these essential resources are not only aware where the DEI Center is located, but also understand all of the services they provide.” He also thanked the Soldiers and Civilians who run the DEI Center for offering such exceptional resources.
Charpentier echoed LeMaster’s appreciation for the center’s support staff and leaders who are supporting their efforts. “This is another opportunity for MEDCoE leaders to lead through change,” Charpentier said. “Our organization continues to adjust, adapt and keep up with the modernization efforts within the Army and our Nation.”
Capt. Chad Beach, a 70B Health Services Administrator who just completed a successful command of Alpha Company, 264 Medical Battalion, is the newly appointed director of the MEDCoE DEI, Center. Beach said, “The center helps to synchronize embedded personnel support assets, as well as coordinates with local installation support partners and programs to provide assistance to all members of MEDCoE, on an individual, group, organizational and strategic level.”
Originally from Idaho, Beach commissioned in Jan 2014 and has had a variety of leader and staff positions in the last seven years. He is dual military, married to Capt. Baker Beach, the Commander, Charlie Company, Troop Command, Brooke Army Medical Center, since August of 2019.
MEDCoE’s Capt. Beach, who served as the Officer in Charge of the MEDCoE Diversity Operational Planning Team since its creation, September 2020, said he is honored to now serve as the first director of the MEDCoE DEI Center. He remarked on the personal significance of holding the ribbon cutting ceremony at the start of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.
“Officially opening the doors of the MEDCoE DEI Center at the beginning of LGBT Pride Month has a special place in my heart,” Beach said. He admits to hiding his sexual orientation for much of his Army career for fear that it would ultimately hinder him professionally, especially in instances when he had an immediate supervisor who was non-affirming of the LGBT community. “It was difficult to hide such a fundamental part of who I was and balance that with the rigor of Army life.”
It is Beach’s hope that the MEDCoE DEI Center, and associated sections, provides a safe, non-judgmental place for everyone to feel welcome and supported. He is proud to assist the Army’s vision of building cohesive teams that secure the Total Army Force. “We must make everyone understand that they are a valued member of our diverse and inclusive team and that they deserve equitable treatment and opportunity,” Beach said. “I hope that the initiatives and programs that come out of this center help change the culture for every Soldier, Department of Defense Civilian and Family Member.”
The MEDCoE DEI Center is open for walk-ins to the main office building 1350, room 0110; SHARP, room 0105; Equal Opportunity, room 0113; and the Command Chaplain Section, room 1121. A center webpage will be available by the end of the month on the MEDCoE website, www.medcoe.army.mil. For more information about DEI Center services, call (210) 221-5254. For after-hours assistance, call the DoD Safe helpline at (887)-995-5247 or the Suicide Prevention helpline at (800) 273-8255.