FORT DETRICK, Md. -- After three decades of service to the U.S. Army, Col. John “Ryan” Bailey said the key to his career success is simple -- never say no to education, training and new experiences.
Bailey, 51, who retires Sept. 9 after serving as the commander of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, said that the military offers so many opportunities -- from the Montgomery or post-9/11 GI Bill to the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), military service academies and other programs.
His message to his fellow Soldiers: Take advantage of all learning opportunities.
“Education is foundational for any Soldier and any career path,” he said. “There are many opportunities to get your degree, develop and propel your career forward, and set yourself up for success.”
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Bailey said he developed an interest in military from a young age. His grandfather, Jacob C. Bailey, served in the Navy during World War II. Several other relatives served as well.
As a child, he remembers often going to Naval Air Station Jacksonville with his family to see the planes and ships.
“That really sparked my interest,” Bailey said.
Bailey’s family later relocated to Georgia, where he followed that interest in the military by joining the Naval Junior ROTC program at McEachern High School in Powder Springs and became battalion commander his senior year.
Ultimately, however, Bailey chose to join the Army after he was competitively awarded a scholarship to attend the University of North Georgia. He earned his bachelor’s in Business Administration and Marketing, while serving in the Army National Guard.
Throughout his career, Bailey has served in numerous acquisition and medical logistics positions at the tactical, operational and strategic levels of the Army. Previous titles include platoon leader, property book officer, division medical supply officer, operations and plans officer, battalion supply officer, company commander and medical logistics plans officer.
In addition to commanding at USAMMA, a subordinate organization of Army Medical Logistics Command, Bailey also previously served as commander of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, also located at Fort Detrick.
“So I have my picture in two buildings here (at Fort Detrick),” he laughed.
Prior to that, he served as the deputy program manager of the Joint Operational Medicine Information Systems Program Management Office, where he provided leadership and guidance for programs on acquisition, planning and execution of the Department of Defense’s new electronic health record, Military Health System GENESIS, for operational forces.
During his decades of service, Bailey said he always looked for opportunities to grow, both educationally and professionally, including developmental assignments and broadening experiences.
“You’ve got to put yourself out there and take those tough jobs,” Bailey said. “I think that allows more opportunities to present themselves.”
All the while, Bailey continued to pursue education, earning a master’s in Supply Chain Management from the Naval Postgraduate School and a master’s in Strategic Studies from the Eisenhower School.
Through education, Bailey said he has become a better officer and improved his ability to solve complex problems, all the while ensuring and enabling Army medical readiness and taking care of the Soldiers under his command.
Bailey urged anyone considering a career in the military, or even young enlisted personnel, to explore the educational opportunities offered to service members.
“The opportunities are there and there’s so many career fields to choose from,” Bailey added.
“The Army needs good people, and I know there’s great people out there. They just need to know about these opportunities.”