FORT KNOX, Ky. — In the same week the Medical Service Corps is celebrating 106 years of military health service, Col. Caryn Vernon passed command of Fort Knox Medical Department Activity and Ireland Army Health Clinic over to Kentucky native Col. Scott Farley.
The two, along with members of the Fort Knox community, gathered in Sadowsky Center June 27 to participate in the ceremony. Vernon, who has commanded the units for the last two years, occasionally fought back tears as she reflected on her time at Fort Knox.
“To my department and clinic OICs, NCOICs and supervisors … I want to thank you for your commitment to taking care of our patients and your people,” said Vernon. “Your ability to be flexible and understand the big picture while being innovative to accomplish the mission was evident every day.”
Under Vernon’s leadership, medical teams cared for the Fort Knox community through times of tremendous change, from adapting to new office spaces as the old hospital was demolished to adjusting to strict protocols during the height of COVID-19 and then returning to relaxed protocols while living with the new virus.
Regional Health Command-Atlantic commander Brig. Gen. Mary Krueger highlighted these accomplishments and more as host of the event and guest speaker.
“Today, Army medicine is reformed, reorganized, partnering with the Defense Health Agency to deliver worldclass health care,” said Krueger. “Now bringing this commitment home here to Fort Knox I want to talk about what Col. Vernon and her team have done.”
Vernon will be taking charge of 44th Medical Brigade at Fort Liberty, North Carolina. Krueger praised the Vernon and the Ireland team for handling the COVID pandemic while adapting to the MHS Genesis computer system that was built to more efficiently document care.
“They supported Operation Allied Welcome, a unique mission for our nation that could not have been predicted when Caryn took command, but I think there’s a lesson for us all there,” Krueger continued. “Today’s world is so dynamic we need to come into these leadership jobs expecting we will be ready for that which we cannot predict.”
After the colors were passed to Farley, he thanked those who attended and boasted on the legacy of Ireland’s history “that represents the soul of the Army Medical Department, the Defense Health Agency, and the storied history of Fort Knox, Kentucky.”
He told his wife and daughter he considered himself honored to be able to finally make it back to his home state.
“Welcome to the great state of Kentucky — and my home of record,” Farley said to them. “It took just 16 years to get here, and I promise this state’s people and community are amazing.”