Dr. (Capt.) Melodie Raese, a veterinarian assigned to Public Health Activity-San Diego (PHA-SD) and stationed at Travis Air Force Base, earned the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) Oct. 15 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) after a grueling three-week event that tested participants’ professional skills, stamina, and proficiency.
Described as one of the most challenging proficiency badges in the U.S. Army, the EFMB has an average completion rate of 27% according to the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence.
Raese always wanted to become a veterinarian, and explains the U.S. Army was the right path to achieve her goals. Through the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), she attended veterinary school after completing Army ROTC at Texas A&M. It was also through the HPSP that she learned about the EFMB.
“As part of HPSP, I was completing some veterinary school training at Fort Hood where I shadowed Dr. (Capt.) Evans who was training for her EFMB at the time,” said Raese. “I was there with her waking up at 4am, going over all the tasks and seeing first-hand the train up required for EFMB.”
Evans, who is currently the group veterinarian for the 1st Special Forces Group at JBLM, went on to earn her badge later that summer. She reflected on their time together, saying Raese was always one step ahead in both strategy and motivation.
“She was an exceptional intern at the time,” said Evans. “When I was training for my badge, Raese came out on her own accord to help me train.”
Raese explained that Evans taught her the importance of the badge that summer.
“It’s our badge, it’s something to strive for, and it’s something that will set you apart,” said Raese.
To earn the badge, candidates must complete the following: a written test, a physical fitness assessment, a land navigation course, at both day and night, various warrior skills, tactical combat casualty care and evacuation lanes, a 12-mile foot march, and disassemble, reassemble, and perform a functions check on their M4 carbine.
“Every part of the preparation and the course itself was a feat,” said Raese. “The course is physically demanding, but after a few days I was finally able to rely on my training, build my confidence, and treat every day like a new day in order to be proficient.”
Through the physically demanding challenges, Raese explains she never felt alone because of the immense support she received before and during the event.
“Having another VCO there, Dr. (Capt.) Robert Resch, made the experience even more meaningful because they understand the day-to-day routine,” said Raese. “It’s crazy and cool how interconnected the Veterinary Corps is.”
Raese realized just how interconnected and supportive Army Medicine and the Veterinary Corps were when Evans joined her on the final 12-mile foot ruck.
“It was nice to see friendly faces and know you went through something challenging to make yourself and your colleagues proud,” said Raese. “Everyone who has earned this badge knows the struggle and importance.”
Evans explained it was a special day for her as well.
“It was great to be with her and be able to support her earning the badge,” said Evans. “I’m gratified by the notion of her success, and she proved successful.”
Dr. (Lt. Col.) Jodi Sangster, PHA-SD commander and EFMB badge holder, said Raese was a great example of the high caliber of Soldiers serving in her command.
“By earning this challenging qualification badge, Captain Raese has demonstrated to the entire Activity the grit, intelligence, and skill that enables PHA-SD to accomplish its missions around the Pacific and the world,” said Sangster. “Our command is successful because of extraordinary professionals like Captain Raese.”
Raese explains that although she earned the coveted badge, she is never truly done earning it.
“With this badge, you’re upholding the title of expert, and you should continue being the expert in your field- that’s what I’m striving for.”