HARTFORD, Kentucky – The command surgeon for the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards formation highlighted the life-saving power of Army medical advances during a video presentation for high school students at Ohio County High School in Hartford, Kentucky, Jan. 18.
Lt. Col. Michael V. Arnett, the senior medical officer and command surgeon for the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, recorded the presentation for the students after a civilian healthcare colleague in Kentucky asked him on behalf of a science teacher.
James Fulkerson, the math and science teacher at the high school, said 110 students in six classes watched the video that highlighted the role that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) have played in keeping the U.S. Army ready to fight and win the nation’s wars. The freshmen students were in his Introduction to Chemistry and Physics classes.
Fulkerson thanked Arnett for recording the video for the school, adding that his students were excited to watch it.
“My students were very attentive and enjoyed the video very much. Most students did not realize and were surprised how much the military was involved with medical science,” said Fulkerson. “I asked the school principal to stop by to view the video with one of my classes. He said that he didn't realize how much the military was involved with the development of medical procedures.”
A native of Murray, Kentucky, Arnett said he joined the U.S. Army to pay for medical school and stayed because he loves being a Soldier and taking care of Soldiers. He said he welcomed the opportunity to share some of the ways that U.S. Army medical professionals have saved lives, both on and off the battlefield.
“There is an incredibly rich and profound history of medical advances from Army doctors that goes back to our nation’s beginning and continues today,” said Arnett. “During the Continental Army’s winter at Valley Forge in 1778, George Washington’s physicians inoculated troops with smallpox to give them immune protection and prevent the spread of the disease, which was active in the colonies at that time.”
The command surgeon also highlighted other notable Army medical advances, including the introduction of medical wagons during the Revolutionary War, antibiotics during World War II and helicopters and Mobile Army Surgical Hospital tents during the Korean War.
Arnett also introduced some of the U.S. Army’s legendary doctors from Dr. William Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, to Dr. Walter Reed, the namesake of the Army’s flagship hospital in the nation’s capital.
“One of the most famous Army physicians, Dr. Walter Reed, carried out one of the first scientific studies on disease transmission and discovered that mosquitos were the vectors for transmitting yellow fever,” said Arnett. “His discovery potentially saved more lives than any other military physician in the course of human history.”
Arnett said Army medical professionals continue to leverage science to combat disease and improve medical care for Soldiers and their families.
“Currently, the Army is developing vaccines for infections including malaria, partnering with pharmaceutical industry to develop new medications and continually improving resuscitative surgery in the austere and pre-hospital setting,” said Arnett.
The colonel said the 20th CBRNE Command’s 1st Area Medical Laboratory provided assistance to U.S. Forces Korea in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Army medical professionals from the one-of-a-kind laboratory supported installation vaccination clinics, testing and coordinated follow-up for those in quarantine and isolation. Arnett added that U.S. Army senior leaders, logistic experts and medical planners also supported Operation Warp Speed, the effort that helped to produce the COVID-19 vaccines in use today.
Arnett said he has witnessed firsthand the saving power of Army medical advances during several combat deployments.
“I have seen junior combat medics provide cutting edge trauma care resulting in near-miraculous survival of Soldiers with catastrophic injuries from improvised explosive and explosively formed penetrator device wounds,” said Arnett. “I have also seen how the more mundane aspects of medicine – hand washing stations, drinking water surveillance, immunizations – keep even more Soldiers in the fight.”