By Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army December 9, 2011
General Raymond T. Odierno
MEDCOM Change of Command Remarks (As written)
It's great to be back here at Fort Sam Houston -- one of our finest installations with a proud heritage of excellence across a broad range of missions.
I was just down here a few weeks ago for the IMCOM change of command and know that ARNORTH also changed last week. Hopefully today will close us out on 3-star changes of command for a while. However, it shows the importance that this historic post plays and the depth it provides to our great Army. Not just MEDCOM, IMCOM, and ARNORTH, but also the many other diverse organizations that call Fort Sam Houston home.
A special welcome to our distinguished guests:
• Honorable Jonathan Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
• Honorable Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, & Environment
• General Edward Rice Jr., Commander, Air Education and Training Command
• 4 Former Army Surgeons General:
o LTG (Ret) Bernard Mittemeyer (1981-1985)
o LTG (Ret) Quinn Becker (1985-1989)
o LTG (Ret) Frank Ledford (1989-1992)
o LTG (Ret) Ronald Blanck (1996-2000)
• Texas State Senator Jeff Wentworth
• Many more leaders from across our Army and from the local community
• And of course, the Soldiers and Professionals of the Army Medical Community with us today and those serving around the world.
From the Schoomaker family, we have with us:
• Audrey, General Schoomaker's wife of 24 years
• Their three children,
o Heidi (20), who is studying Biology and Anthropology at William & Mary
o Kayla (18), a High School Senior, honor student, and competitive crew rower
o Evan (13), a Middle Schooler, skateboarder, snowboarder, and superb soccer player
• General Schoomaker's three brothers:
o GEN (Ret) Pete Schoomaker, a personal mentor of mine who served as the 35th CSA and Commander of Special Operations Command over a distinguished career. Pete continues to support our Soldiers in a variety of community and civic activities
o Mr. Paul Schoomaker, who works in insurance in Omaha, Nebraska
o Mr. Mark Schoomaker, an oil company executive from Fort Worth
• We also are honored to have several others from the extended Schoomaker family, welcome to you all
Accompanying General Horoho is:
• Her husband Ray, a retired Army Colonel who continues to support our troops in several ways
• Their three children:
o Rob (25), a vet clinic business manager from Albany, NY
o John (19), who works in car sales in Albany
o Maggie (18), a high school senior
• General Horoho's parents, LTC (Retired) and Mrs. Ed Dallas are also with us, along with several other members of the extended Horoho and Dallas families, thank you all for coming
I also want to personally recognize CSM Althea Dixon, who has served alongside General Schoomaker for over ten years. She relinquished responsibility just a few hours ago to CSM Brock. CSM Dixon is a trusted advisor who has poured enormous energy into coaching and mentoring countless Soldiers for 35 years. Thank you, Sergeant Major, for your unyielding dedication and lifetime of service.
Today marks a historic change for a community that has shown unmatched dedication and perseverance over its 236-year history. As most of us know, the Continental Congress established the Army on June 14, 1775. Within a month, Congress recognized the urgent need for a Hospital Department "to supply the Continental Army with Medicines." Since then, Army Medicine has enabled every one of our Army's accomplishments.
This innovative and talented community adapted to the unique challenges associated with each of our Nation's conflicts to provide life-saving treatment and care on the battlefield and sustain our Soldiers and families at home.
Over the past decade in particular, MEDCOM constructed an unprecedented chain of care from battlefields across the globe to our world-class medical centers at home. You also set a new standard of care for our Wounded Warriors. We will never take these heroes' sacrifice for granted.
Army Medicine also plays a special role in ensuring our commitment to the Warrior Ethos -- our pledge to never leave a fallen comrade. Every Soldier today knows their commitment and sacrifice is supported by the best military medical support in the world from the furthest and most remote combat outpost to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
LTG Eric Schoomaker has made a lasting contribution to our Army. The impact of his achievements extends far beyond the Army to include the national and international level:
• He made possible cutting edge research --particularly related to trauma care, burn treatment, regenerative medicine, and amputee care.
• He established and chaired the National Interagency Collaboration of Biological Research to coordinate efforts across federal entities.
• He was the driving force behind ground-breaking health promotion and education programs, including:
o A Pain Management Task Force which gained national recognition for its efforts to reduce reliance on pain medications.
o The Campaign Plan for Warrior Traumatic Brain Injury Management, through which the Army now leads the Nation in identification, treatment and research of brain injury and concussive disorders.
o The Army Campaign Plan for Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention -- which most of us know as the Red Book.
In sum, as a National leader in health care, Eric Schoomaker forever changed the face of military medicine and dramatically improved the wellbeing and readiness of our Army.
He has an extraordinary ability to articulate a vision to lead transformational change. These are the hallmarks of strategic leadership that we work so hard to develop in our senior leaders.
Eric, our Army has been fortunate and rewarded to have you with us for over three decades.
Thank you for all you have done for our Army.
Right alongside Eric has been his wife, Audrey. They met when Audrey served as an Army Nurse Corps Officer at Walter Reed. Audrey served as the senior spouse advisor during each of General Schoomaker's assignments. In this role, she guided family programs, led spouse conferences, and advocated tirelessly for Army families.
She also volunteers with numerous community organizations -- she is a long-time volunteer with the "Arlington Ladies", who attend Army funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. She also serves with passion as an ambassador for our Nation's Wounded Warriors -- supporting the Fisher House Foundation and energizing Warrior Family Support Center initiatives.
Audrey is a certified yoga instructor and yoga therapist. She has volunteered her talents for countless hours providing alternative medicine and mind body instruction to various Wounded Warrior support groups.
Her genuine compassion, creative energy, and willingness to volunteer her time while successfully raising her own Family, have greatly contributed to the well-being and resilience of Soldiers and Families within the MEDCOM community and across the Army.
Audrey, thank you for your never-ending love and support of Soldiers and Families.
When I think of the Schoomakers, Albert Schweitzer's famous quote comes to mind:
"True servant leaders put others ahead of their own agenda; Possess the confidence to serve; Initiate service to others; Are not position-conscious; and serve out of love."
We wish you all the best of luck as you move forward toward a great future.
We are fortunate that another great commander steps in today to lead MEDCOM as the Army transitions in the future. General Patricia Horoho is uniquely qualified to lead Army Medicine in this critical time in our Nation's history.
She brings a wealth of command and medical experience, including:
• Her previous assignment as the Deputy Surgeon General and Chief of the Army Nurse Corps
• Command tours at the Western Regional Medical Command, Walter Reed Health Care System, and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital
• She just returned from Afghanistan, where she was the Special Advisor for Medical Affairs to the Commander, ISAF Joint Command
The recognitions that Patty has received include:
• One of the "Top 100 nurses" in North Carolina in 1993
• Fort Bragg's Supervisor of the Year in 1993
• Honored by Time Life Publications for her actions on September 11, 2001 at the Pentagon
• One of the American Red Cross's 15 "Nurse Heroes" in 2002
• University of Pittsburgh Legacy Laureate, 2007
• USO's "Woman of the Year" in 2009
Most importantly, she brings an incredible passion for helping Soldiers and their Families. Throughout our history, nurses have provided courageous and passionate service to our Soldiers. We are all extremely proud that our senior nurse will now become our Surgeon General and commander of the Army Medical Command. And notably, General Horoho is the first Army nurse, as well as the first woman, to ascend to the position of Army Surgeon General, a tribute to her leadership and service.
We have many challenges ahead that will require the steadfast resolve of MEDCOM:
• Our top priority is to continue providing trained, equipped, and ready forces to win the current fight and maintain responsiveness for unforeseen contingencies. This requires MEDCOM's absolute commitment to ensuring strong, resilient, and deployable Soldiers.
• While we remain in contact, we must also develop Army 2020 as part of Joint Force 2020.
While we cannot accurately predict the future, I know we need a versatile mix of capabilities, formations, and equipment to prevent future conflict, and if prevention fails, to win decisively and dominantly.
• As we go forward, it is imperative that MEDCOM apply the lessons of over ten years of continuous combat to ensure that it remains on the cutting edge of medical capabilities and support.
• I am committed to sustaining our high-quality All-Volunteer Army, in which MEDCOM plays a critical role by providing world class health care for Wounded Warriors, Soldiers, Families, Civilians, and Retirees.
• MEDCOM also serves a vital role in helping us adapt leader development for the future, educating our leaders on health care and policy.
• Finally, I salute all of the members of the MEDCOM team. All of you are totally committed to our noble and selfless Army Profession, yet we ask you to do likewise for the medical profession.
In closing, I note that we must safeguard the bedrock of our profession: Trust. Trust between Soldiers; trust between Soldiers and leaders; trust between Soldiers, their Families and the Army; and trust between the Army and the American People. Army Medical Command plays an essential role in maintaining this trust, so we will maintain our credentials as the Nation's Force of Decisive Action.
The strength of the Nation is our Army
The strength of our Army is our Soldiers
The strength of our Soldiers is our Families
This is what makes us Army Strong!
Thank you all, and God Bless America.