MONS, Belgium – Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) Healthcare Facility and U.S. Army Health Clinic Brussels welcomed a new commander as U.S. Army Col. Kathleen G. Spangler relinquished command to U.S. Army Col. Michael D. Ronn, at SHAPE, Belgium, June 24.
U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander, U.S. European Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), presided over the ceremony.
During the ceremony, Wolters accredited Spangler’s leadership with NATO’s continued success throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which garnered international attention, highlighting the SHAPE installation’s COVID-19 response efforts.
“If (Spangler is) ever talking about successes, it's you, they,” remarked Wolters, citing Spangler’s humility and modesty. “We continue to prove one more time, we're a heck of a lot stronger together.
“Without your readiness for the last year and a half, we would have failed. (NATO) would not be able to meet their task,” said Wolters, NATO’s top general, addressing Spangler and her team. “On behalf of a grateful NATO, 30 Nations and 51 countries we look out for, thank you so much for your service, we will miss you.”
A nurse by trade, Spangler took command of Army Medicine in Belgium in 2019, leading the clinics through a successful survey by The Joint Commission, verifying the clinics’ commitment to quality and patient safety, and leading the U.S. Army COVID-19 response efforts across Belgium.
“When the bullet needed to go into the chamber on the frontline, it was never late because you were ready,” said Wolters. “I offer my sincerest thanks to the great medical warriors and patriots who represent that cause and represent the organization.”
SHAPE Healthcare Facility plays a unique role in U.S. Military Medicine as the only U.S.-led international health clinic with five NATO nation clinics (Canada, Italy, Turkey, Poland and Greece) embedded within the facility, providing health care to an international, joint community composed of multiple military commands and supporting the health care needs of approximately 18,000 NATO personnel and family members.
“You all didn't miss a beat. You made sure we worked together, we came together as a community and that is what makes us so unique,” said Spangler, addressing the staff and Soldiers of SHAPE Healthcare Facility and U.S. Army Health Clinic Brussels. “This command has made me a better person; a better leader and I thank each and every one of you.”
Spangler is slated to be the next director of Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, a joint-service hospital in the National Capital region.
Ronn, a pharmacist by trade, most recently served as the executive officer for the U.S. Army Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Telita Crosland.
SHAPE is the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations, commanded by Wolters. The NATO health care mission has belonged to the U.S. Army since the 196th Station Hospital was assigned to Paris, France in 1955. Additionally, the SHAPE Healthcare Facility provides regional support to units and personnel in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, as needed.