SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – Three Soldiers from Desmond T. Doss Health Clinic (DDHC), and one from U.S. Army Medical Activity-Korea won first place in the 2021 U.S. Army Medical Command Best Leader Competition here today.
Capt. Jason Christman, 1st Sgt. Amy Davis, Staff Sgt. Israel Rivera, and Spc. Jarett Rodriguez competed against teams from Regional Health Command–Europe, Regional Health Command–Central, and Regional Health Command–Atlantic in a week of grueling physical and mental events.
“The only reason we made it through this competition was because we pulled together as a team,” explained Capt. Jason Christman, an optometrist at DDHC. “We were all exhausted, both mentally and physically, but we pulled together as a team and kept each other going.”
The weeklong competition consisted of multiple events, including day and night land navigation, an Army Combat Fitness Test, a written exam, medical lanes, and even a mystery event.
“We were able to prepare for the events we knew about, but we were all nervous about the mystery event,” described Staff Sgt. Israel Rivera, a Combat Medic with DDHC. “It turned out to be a kayaking event that really pushed us right up to our limits and then past them.”
U.S. Army Medical Command designed the competition’s events to test the teams’ medical capabilities, like responding to casualties, as well as their tactical skills as Soldiers, such as marksmanship. In addition to mastering medical training, Combat Medics must be able to seamlessly integrate into combat units throughout the Army.
“We’re Soldiers first, and that means that we have to be ready to do whatever we’re called upon to do,” said 1st Sgt. Amy Davis, a Combat Medic with U.S. Army Medical Activity – Korea. “Luckily, I have an amazing team, and we were able to rely on each other to make it through the competition.”
Because the team spends its normal workdays focused on patient care, it had to train for the event outside of duty hours.
“We had to fit in our training whenever we could,” noted Spc. Jarett Rodriguez, a Combat Medic with DDHC. “Because we take care of patients during the duty day, we find time to train in the mornings before the clinic opens, evenings, and even weekends to make sure we were prepared.”
The group credited teamwork as their key to success. Having an officer, first sergeant, non-commissioned officer, and a junior enlisted Soldier on the team meant the group was able to draw on different skills and perspectives to win the competition.
“The fact that we are different ranks, have different experiences, and come from different career fields makes us a stronger team,” described Rivera. “No matter what we faced, we knew we could rely on each other. Teamwork is the only reason we won first place.”
In addition to capturing first place as a team, two members of the Regional Health Command – Pacific team won in their respective individual categories. Christman came in first place in the officer category, and Rodriguez took first in the junior enlisted category.
Regional Health Command-Pacific, headquartered at JBLM and in Honolulu, is the most geographically-dispersed command in Army Medicine, stretching more than 5,000 miles and five time zones across the Pacific.
The command oversees Army medical treatment facilities and units in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii, Japan and South Korea.