FORT DRUM, New York – The Fort Drum community officially welcomed the new commander of the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity and Guthrie Army Medical Home during a change of command ceremony at Memorial Park, July 21, 2023.
Col. Matthew J. Mapes officially relinquished command of the MEDDAC to Col. Christina M. Buchner in a ceremony attended by more than 200 Soldiers, family members, civilian employees, and members of the surrounding communities, including various representatives from government organizations and local healthcare institutions.
"As we wish a fond farewell to one great leader, I am so excited to welcome another," said Brig. Gen. Mary V. Krueger, commanding general of Medical Readiness Command, East, and the ceremony's reviewing officer. "(Buchner) is a phenomenal officer in her own right with a great reputation who has served in a variety of operational, command, and staff positions at echelon, both as an enlisted Soldier as well as an officer."
Mapes relinquished command of the MEDDAC after serving as the organization's senior leader and Fort Drum's senior healthcare officer for just over two years. During his time, Mapes oversaw the successful transition of the MEDDAC to the Defense Health Agency as well as leading Fort Drum out of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Under Mapes' leadership, the MEDDAC also earned the 2022 Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval for Ambulatory Care, Behavioral Health Care, and Primary Care Medical Home, with some of the highest ratings in the clinic's history.
"When I think back on our journey together, I am reminded of the countless accomplishments we have achieved as a team," Mapes said. "We have overcome obstacles that seemed insurmountable, achieved milestones that surpassed expectations, and made a lasting impact in the lives of those we serve. Over the past two years, I have been thoroughly impressed with how well the organization responded to the numerous challenges that were given to us."
Mapes' next assignment will take him to Fort Cavazos, Texas, where he will serve as deputy hospital commander of the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center before transitioning to Fort Carson, Colorado, next summer, where he will assume command of the Evans Army Community Hospital.
As part of the traditional change of command ceremony, Mapes ceremonially passed the unit's flag, or colors, to Krueger, signifying the end of Mapes' tenure as commander. Krueger then passed the colors to Buchner, representing the commanding general's confidence in Buchner's capabilities as a leader and officially recognizing her as the new commander of the MEDDAC. Ensuring the colors are always in someone's hands throughout the passing of the colors signifies the unit and its Soldiers are never without leadership.
Buchner, a medical operations officer, comes to Fort Drum after serving as the chief of readiness and training for the U.S. Army Medical Command and Office of the Surgeon General in Falls Church, Virginia. Her operational medical experience includes assignments in Hawaii, Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan, to name a few.
Now as the commander of the MEDDAC, Buchner will lead healthcare operations for the northern New York Army post, caring for the health and wellness of Fort Drum's Soldiers, family members, retirees, Department of Defense and Department of the Army civilians, and Soldiers for life.
"I am honored to stand before you today as the successor to a great lineage of MEDDAC commanders who worked diligently to maintain the readiness and extend the operational reach of the mighty 10th Mountain Division," Buchner said during the ceremony. "A line up of great leaders, especially the mighty (medical operations officers) who have worked to maintain our organization's center of gravity; the delivery of safe and quality patient care."
The MEDDAC is Fort Drum's primary healthcare agency, providing medical services and healthcare management to the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum community, servicing more than 32,000 beneficiaries across installation and throughout the region.