MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – There is surely no day better than the Army’s birthday to assume command of a unit. June 14 was perfect, despite overcast skies, for Lt. Col. James Beheler to assume command of the Troop Battalion of Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as Lt. Col. Princess Palacios passed the colors to Madigan Commander Col. Jonathan Craig Taylor to enable the change of command.
“The change of command helps us mark the passage of time and record the chapters of Madigan's history,” said Taylor.
This ceremony marked the third time in a row where the battalion’s incoming commander had previously served as the military treatment facility’s executive officer. Amy Bird, a colonel who recently retired from Madigan and was in attendance at the event, also held both positions before the two leaders involved in the day’s ceremony.
“Thank you to the troops on the field. You're inspiring each and every day with your selfless service, your sacrifice and your dedication to each other and to this mission,” noted Taylor.
The gathering of the battalion’s companies, which included its student detachment, and a contingent of MTF leadership and staff members, gathered on the grass below the main parking lot to thank Palacios for her leadership through the latter portion of the pandemic and the transition of MTF oversight from the Army to the Defense Health Agency.
“We both entered the command at the midpoint of the pandemic in the summer of 2021. At that time, many of us hoped that we'd be nearing the end of that COVID pandemic, only to find that COVID still posed a significant threat,” said Taylor of some of the challenges of a command timeline he has shared with Palacios. “But the members of Troop Command remained steady, providing healthcare that this community and nation needed.”
Palacios is one of the Army’s many Soldiers who makes it a truly global organization. She hails from the island of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. She has earned degrees in nutrition and healthcare administration and is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit. She commanded a combat support hospital while deployed to Iraq, among other notable assignments. She is now set to attend the Senior Service College at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Her service to Madigan has impacted many.
“By investing in the physical, mental and medical well-being of our Soldiers, and ensuring they possess the essential combat skills, we bolster their ability to execute the missions effectively, safeguard health and be prepared to deploy around the world. We owe a debt of gratitude to Lt. Col. Palacios for her tireless service and an unwavering commitment to the troops and their welfare. Lt. Col. Palacios, your performance has been extraordinary. Your attitude – always positive, your professionalism – without question, your compassion – always moving, your mentorship – deeply personal and your dedication – without equal. Your leadership has truly been inspiring,” concluded Taylor of Palacios.
Palacios noted the breakdown of how the Soldiers of Madigan’s Troop Battalion are aligned – 35% in training status, 28% in patient care, for example. She made specific note that it is just 2% of the battalion that plans, executes, resources and ensures good order and discipline in support of 1,200 Soldiers.
“Our organization experienced tremendous changes in two years, as Col. Taylor mentioned. Those were not small transitions or changes; these were major organizational system changes that put our team to the tests,” agreed Palacios of the challenges that arose during her command.
When Palacios took command of the unit, she committed to weathering whatever storms may come. Multiple storms came, she led her troops expertly and gave her team the credit.
“Through these many moving pieces, the Madigan team persevered and continued its long-standing reputation for world class healthcare delivery, top producing graduate medical education and Phase II advanced individual training programs, and the head of the pack in MEDCOM [Army Medical Command] for ensuring Soldiers are ready when called upon for any mission. All this to say, I am proud and honored and humbled to lead and be part of this great organization,” she said.
Being a large base with significant Army and Air Force assets, JBLM can be a place that servicemembers find themselves stationed at multiple times in a career.
Just as Palacios served as Madigan’s executive officer, went on to assignments at higher levels and in higher headquarters units before returning to command the Troop Battalion at Madigan, so too has its incoming commander.
Beheler left Madigan as a major just a couple of years ago. In that short period of time, he promoted to lieutenant colonel and served as deputy commander for administration for the Fort Meade Medical Detachment in Maryland.
“Lt. Col. Beheler, as you step into this esteemed position, I have every confidence in your ability to lead this battalion with the utmost integrity, resilience and compassion,” said Taylor. “Your proven track record, your leadership acumen and dedication to the well-being of troops make you an ideal individual to take up this task.”
With degrees in nursing and healthcare administration, assignments and commands across the DoD, as well as current coursework in pursuit of a graduate certificate in global health and global health engagement, Beheler returns well-equipped to lead Madigan’s uniformed healthcare professionals.
“I'm truly honored and humbled to take command of troop Battalion on the Army’s 248th birthday and Flag Day,” he said.
All commanders know that unit cohesion is a vital element to success.
Taylor in his remarks reminded the troops that, “the success of our battalion always lies in our collective effort.”
Before issuing a single order, Beheler showed himself perfectly aligned with his commander already.
“I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together,” he said.
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