By Bob Reinert/USAG-Natick Public AffairsJune 20, 2011
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine held a commemorative symposium June 16 to 17 at Natick Soldier Systems Center.
As part of the two-day observance, USARIEM had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $30 million renovation of the Wood Building at NSSC, its home since 1968. A tour of the building took place on the second day.
Over its half-century of existence, from 1961 to today, USARIEM has dedicated itself to war fighter health and performance.
“Taken together, it is fair to say that our work touches every Soldier every day,” said Col. Gaston Bathalon, USARIEM’s 18th commander, told symposium attendees. “After a 50 rich years, we bring science to the Soldier as we go about our mission.”
The symposium included speakers on thermal medicine, mountain medicine, biophysics and biomedical modeling, military performance, and military nutrition.
“Our Soldiers have benefited from these scientific advances as USARIEM’s focus has been and continues to be our uniformed men and women,” Bathalon said. “Our strength today is the brainpower that we have assembled to bring to bear on important military issues.
“It goes without saying that excellence in research requires excellence across the institute. I think you will agree that we have serious capabilities with a staff that are very serious about what they do.”
Major General James Gilman, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, pointed to USARIEM’s proximity to Boston, which for decades has allowed collaboration with outstanding universities and medical research centers.
“It’s uniquely situated,” Gilman said. “The fact that’s gone on 50 years, and it’s going strong " I think it’s pretty remarkable. This is really a remarkable and special place.”
Gilman mentioned USARIEM’s distinguished past commanders and staff members.
“Many folks who have spent a lot of time in the Army here have gone on to even greater accomplishments in the academic community out there after they left the Army,” Gilman said. “You develop so much talent here that you continue to export it.”
Michael Sawka, chief of its Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, presented a brief history of USARIEM as the symposium began. Then Bathalon accepted numerous awards on behalf of the institute.
“In many ways,” said Sawka, “I believe that we have provided the very best science for the very best war fighters in the world.”
Bathalon said that even in the face of new fiscal challenges, USARIEM will press forward to do more of that.
“As in the past, USARIEM will continue to provide important science solutions to war fighters,” Bathalon said. “It does not escape me to say that … those of us on staff today (are) going to be the USARIEM that they are going to talk about at the 75th anniversary. Here’s to a successful future.”