By Vice Adm. Forrest Faison
In my first few months as Navy surgeon general, I’ve had the opportunity to get out and about and meet Sailors, Marines and the Navy Medicine professionals entrusted to care for them and their families. I am completely amazed by the people I’ve met. Our strength, as a Navy and Marine Corps team, is our people, and as surgeon general my top priority is ensuring our people are healthy, ready and on the job.
I want to share with you some highlights from my recent visits to Jacksonville, North Carolina; Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and Norfolk, Virginia.
Jacksonville, North Carolina
My first site visit was to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. While there I had the honor of attending the ceremony at which Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Alejandro Salabarria was presented the Silver Star for his actions while deployed with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion to Afghanistan in 2014. This ceremony embodies why Navy Medicine exists. We are deployed around the world, around the clock to support the warfighter and ensure Sailors and Marines are ready to carry out their missions. HM2 Salabarria represents the entire Navy Medicine enterprise and Navy corpsmen everywhere living up to the legacy of their history and heritage. His actions exemplify why we do what we do. I couldn’t be more proud.
While in North Carolina, FORCM Terry Prince (FMF/SW/AW) and I also met with many staff, beneficiaries and veterans at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. It was our pleasure to engage with them, hear from each about their needs, and answer any questions they had.
And at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Camp Geiger Clinic, I observed corpsmen honing their medical skills by conducting hands-on training. This training will ensure they provide the best medical support to their Marines in the field. They are true representatives of Navy Medicine! #CorpsmanUp
Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas
My second visit was to Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas. I spent two days on a whirlwind tour in “Military City USA” with several command visits including Navy Medicine Education and Training Command (NMETC), Navy Medicine Training Support Center (NMTSC), Naval Medical Research Unit-San Antonio (NAMRU-SA), and the tri-service Medical Education and Training Campus.
The researchers at NAMRU-SA shared with me some of their cutting-edge work which is focused on ways to enhance the health, safety, performance and operational readiness of Navy and Marine Corps personnel. The unique research, development, test and evaluation being done there has a significant impact on operational forces and global health worldwide.
At the Medical Education and Training Campus, I observed some of the simulation models in the nursing synthesis lab. The lab is a part of the Basic Medical Technician Corpsman Program where all hospital corpsmen students get hands-on experience with simulated patients.
I was so energized to speak to our newest generation of hospital corpsmen as they graduated from the Basic Medical Technician Corpsmen Program. They are extremely motivated about applying the skills they’ve learned and being a part of the Navy Medicine team in the fleet.
Most recently I completed a visit to our fleet concentration area in Norfolk. While there I had the privilege of visiting USS Cole (DDG 67). I was so impressed by the young Sailors I met and saw firsthand that today’s Navy is more specialized and highly trained than ever before in history. Every Sailor is critical to the mission. If even one Sailor is not medically ready, the mission can be at risk. This is exactly why Navy Medicine remains focused on keeping them healthy and on the job.
As I reflect on my first three site visits with the Navy and Marine Corps, I redouble my commitment to the Navy Medicine mission. The highlight of each visit has been the time I’ve spent with our people. As I started this column, I will close it. I am completely amazed by the people I’ve met. Our strength is our people, and as surgeon general my top priority is ensuring our people are healthy, ready and on the job. Wherever a Sailor or Marine goes, Navy Medicine is there. I honor the trust placed in our hands and I applaud the Navy Medicine professionals around the globe for caring for America’s sons and daughters who have volunteered to defend our freedom. Each of them has a family back home depending on us to do all in our power to return their loved ones safely. That’s a sacred trust, and Navy Medicine will never compromise that. #OneNavyMedicine