JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – CAMP BULLIS, Texas – The Expert Field Medical Badge, commonly known as the EFMB, is one of the most rigorous and highly sought-after U.S. Army special skill badges. Of the many Soldiers that compete for the badge, only a few successfully obtain the EFMB. The U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE) is hosting a two-week EFMB event with 110 candidates testing for the badge, beginning March 19 at Joint Base San Antonio, Camp Bullis, Texas, to ensure Soldiers are given the opportunity to earn the badge.
The EFMB event includes a standardization phase, during which candidates become familiar with the event lanes and tasks, followed by a testing phase, and ending with a graduation ceremony on April 1, 2022. MEDCoE, the proponent for the Army’s EFMB Test Control Office, last hosted an EFMB event of their own in 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed MEDCoE’s own testing schedule, and this year’s event signifies return to normalcy. The EFMB Test Control Office travels to various test sites across the United States to standardize other unit EFMB test events even during the pandemic, though with less frequency.
Command Sgt. Maj. Clark Charpentier, who joined the MEDCoE as the Command Sergeant Major in February 2020, was very active in reenergizing the MEDCoE EFMB test program, frequently visited the test site during all phases of planning, and continues to oversee the execution of the event.
“The Expert Field Medical Badge is the portrait of excellence for field medicine in the Army,” Charpentier said. The test includes tactical casualty care, land navigation, a physical fitness assessment and other assessments to determine the candidate’s medical and Soldier skill level. “The candidates that prepare themselves physically and mentally, those are the individuals that are generally successful out here in the testing site.”
While the emphasis of Army events naturally focuses on the competing Soldiers and the difficulty of earning the badge, cadre and staff preparation is key to conducting a smooth testing event. Successfully hosting a large event like the EFMB requires hundreds of personnel; weeks of planning, logistics, equipment and supplies procurement; and the final lane setup and testing at Camp Bullis. As with other large competition and testing events, hosting an EFMB assessment event is a chance for the personnel to train and execute at all levels, ensuring Army preparedness for possible real-world operations. The staff at MEDCoE began planning last Fall.
Sgt. 1st Class Junior Velazquez, assigned to Headquarters Company, 232nd Medical Battalion, is serving as Section One Noncommissioned Officer in Charge for the Medical Evacuation Lane. Velazquez earned his EFMB in 2014 and has worked EFMB 11 times as cadre and evaluator. “We’ve been blessed with all the support personnel coming out. We had to start all the lanes from scratch. We have full liberty to set up the lanes based on the guidelines from the EFMB tasks and skill,” said Velazquez. “I’ve had more time and experience in the whole process. It’s more than you show up, do your ten days, and then earn your badge. There’s a lot of hard work and dedication that comes before the candidates even arrive.”
“During standardization they have an opportunity to see how to perform the task,” said Staff Sgt. Caleb Stinson, an Advanced Individual Training instructor assigned to the 232nd Medical Battalion. Stinson has spent the past few weeks preparing the Medical Evacuation Lane and working with other cadre and AIT Soldiers detailed to assist during the EFMB. His role is to ensure the lane is ready when the Soldiers testing for the EFMB go through the standardization and testing phases. Stinson, who earned the EFMB in 2018, understands the difficulty of both the preparations and testing.
“During standardization the detailed Soldiers have an opportunity to see how to perform the task,” said Stinson. “For them, it’s a chance to learn. Chances are they will be out here in the future as a candidate. Seeing the lanes and familiarizing themselves will help when it’s their time to test for the EFMB. Being out here also gives them an idea of what to expect when they get to their first unit after finishing AIT.”
One of the detailed Soldiers is taking advantage of assisting during the EFMB. “It’s a real learning process,” said Pvt. Lyhjon Leslie, assigned to Alpha Company, 264th Medical Battalion, and training to become a 68F Physical Therapy Specialist. Leslie joined the Army in November 2021, and appreciates having the opportunity to see the Noncommisssioned Officers conducting an event outside of the classroom.
“I will definitely be part of the EFMB process in the future. I would say I’m one step closer right now. The Sergeants are giving us great instruction. If you’re willing to learn, you will learn. It’s pretty fun.”
The EFMB test measures the individual medical Soldier's physical fitness, mental toughness, and ability to perform to standards of excellence in a broad spectrum of critical medical and Soldier skills. Earning the EFMB requires successful completion of a digital written test and all events during the testing period, which includes passing the physical fitness assessment, land navigation, testing lanes, the 12-mile road march, and the final event. Army units, not just the MEDCoE, conduct EFMB testing as frequently as their operational tempo will allow.
Charpentier said, “The measure of success is that individuals are out here and they are getting advanced training.” During the testing event Soldiers are shown skills they will be tested, are taught the proper way to perform those skills, and are able to practice those skills before they are formally tested. “Every single candidate that comes out here, emerges on the back side, as a better medic for the Army."
To learn more about the EFMB, or to schedule a unit test event, visit the MEDCoE website at https://medcoe.army.mil/efmb.