SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii- Sgt. 1st Class Guillermo Jaramillovaldes and Staff Sgt. Jonathan Padua, Veterinary Food Inspectors assigned to Public Health Activity-Hawaii, earned the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge, here April 27.
Jaramillovaldes and Padua were the only VFIs represented in this iteration of the E3B training and qualification event for the Expert Soldier Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, and Expert Field Medical Badge, which included over 900 soldiers.
“I hope we set the example for all VFIs across the Veterinary Corps that earning the EFMB is doable and not totally impossible,” said Padua. “It was a great opportunity to be there with Sgt. 1st Class Jaramillovaldes and earn the badge together.”
With a pass rate of only 27%, according to the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, the EFMB is the most sought-after peacetime award in the U.S. Army Medical Department, and undoubtedly challenging to earn.
Although successful on his first attempt, Jaramillovaldes admits his apprehensiveness towards the EFMB before arriving at PHA-H.
“I really did shy away from going out for the badge until I saw for myself the resources and training available here,” said Jaramillovaldes. “With help from my unit and support from the PHA-H Command Team, I was able to give it my one hundred percent effort.”
To earn the badge, each soldier must pass an Expert Physical Fitness Assessment, complete weapons qualification, go through three Combat Testing Lanes, finish a day and night land navigation course, pass a written test and a 12-mile road march.
Padua also confirmed the support from the unit was invaluable from the beginning of the train up to the testing, knowing that the team covered the critical food mission in their absence.
“The unit was always there supporting and motivating us and covering the mission while we were in the field which allowed me to fully focus my effort on the badge,” said Padua.
Jaramillovaldes and Padua attribute much of their success to their fellow PHA-H soldiers, including four additional PHC-P soldiers who competed alongside them.
“Having the team with me through testing meant everything, and the support we provided to each other was tremendous,” said Jaramillovaldes. “Anytime we had a break, we were either studying, asking questions, or getting some much-needed rest, and all of that was always with the team.”
Often called the "portrait of excellence" in the Army, Jaramillovaldes now has a greater understanding of that significance and what the EFMB means to him.
“The badge itself carries a lot of weight,” said Jaramillovaldes. “When I see someone wearing it, I know what they went through physically and mentally and what they sacrificed until the last minute of testing.
Lt. Col. Johnnie Robbins, PHA-H commander, added that he is extremely proud of Jaramillovaldes and Padua and now that they’ve earned the badge it’s up to them to, “Continue the legacy of EFMB as a source of pride and motivation, inspiring others to strive for greatness, regardless of their circumstances.”