FORT BLISS, Texas -- With the desert sun shining on their faces and their newly awarded Army Commendation Medals, seven Army leaders were recognized as winners in the 2022 Regional Health Command-Central (RHC-C) Best Leader Competition (BLC) hosted by the William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
The Reynolds Army Health Clinic of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, took home the trophy as the competition's best squad.
"Whenever we go to war we are integrated with the warfighter," Cpt. Erik Heitman, the RHC-C BLC officer-in-charge, said. "So, our medics need to be able to do the same things as our combat Soldiers."
For five days, 64 of the Army's medical Soldiers converged on the 1.2 million-acre training area to compete against each other in numerous administrative, athletic and warrior tasks and battle drills to determine who would reign supreme as the RHC-C's best medical leaders. Heitman says the event is important to further the mission of the Army's medical personnel.
1st Lt. Cara Adams assigned to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital was selected as the winner among all the officers who competed. The Attleboro, Massachusetts, native said she gained a lot of confidence following her success in the competition.
"I think a lot of the people around me almost believe more in me than I think I do," Adams said. "Going forward knowing I am more capable than I thought I was, and that's a great place to be in."
Sgt. 1st Class Timothy McCoole assigned to Reynolds Army Community Hospital was selected as the winner for all senior noncommissioned officers. The husband and father of two, said the week-long event was vigorous and physically demanding and the troops had little time for sleep. But, as a senior leader, McCoole was especially proud of the soldiers he was competing with and against.
"It was awesome seeing Soldiers get out of their comfort zones," McCoole said. "Some of the Soldiers here haven't seen this type of environment at this extent, it was cool to see them giving it their all."
Additionally, Staff Sgt. Tabitha Moore and Sgt. Garrett Paulson both assigned to the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital at Fort Polk were announced as the winners for the junior noncommissioned officers.
Rounding out the individual winners were three junior enlisted Soldiers:
Spc. Conner Crisafi, assigned to Evans Army Medical Center; Pvt. 1st Class Stefano Vendraminetto, who competed on the Dental and Public Health Combined team; and Spc. Paulo Dasilva with Reynolds Army Health Clinic.
Reflecting on the competition, Heitman said he was not only proud of the winners, but all the Soldiers who competed in the event because the Army Medical Command troops are still Soldiers first.
"People look at these Soldiers that maybe wear scrubs all day and they're on a hospital floor treating patients,” he said. “They don't really think of a MEDCOM Soldier as doing something like this.”
Heitman concluded that just because your day job environment is climate controlled doesn’t mean you can’t adapt to a battlefield.