AMEDD: Keeping the Army Fit to Fight

By Schoomaker, Eric B. | Army, July 2009 | Go to article overview

AMEDD: Keeping the Army Fit to Fight


Schoomaker, Eric B., Army


The dedicated men and women - military, civilian, volunteer and contractor - of the U.S. Army Medical Department (AMEDD) personify the Army value of "selfless service." Their service ensures that critical missions to protect our combatants, to deploy in support of that force, to care for wounded, ill and injured soldiers, and to protect and care for the Army family are simultaneously achieved.

We are successful in these missions through a $10 billion international health promotion and health-care delivery command staffed by more than 70,000 professionals. I know firsthand that the men and women of AMEDD are experts in medical research and development, medical logistics, training and doctrine, health promotion and preventive medicine, dental care, and veterinary care in addition to delivering an industry-leading health-care benefit to 3.5 million beneficiaries around the world. These disparate missions are synchronized, resourced, measured and tracked through the Army Medicine Balanced Scorecard - a tool that has seen widespread use and great advances in 2008-09.

Central to everything we do is the warrior - we exist as AMEDD to support the warrior. I am happy to report that we are accomplishing our missions phenomenally well. Army Medicine and the joint medical force provide top-notch medical support from the garrison to the battlefield and back, across the full continuum of care.

This is an extraordinary year for Army Medicine. One hundred years ago, the first patients were admitted to a new Army medical hospital in Washington, D.C, named for a remarkable man whose scholarship, courage and reasoned approach to the communicable disease threats of his day helped change the course of history in the United States and the Western Hemisphere. That Army physician-scientist was MAJ Walter Reed, who led a team to study yellow fever in Cuba. He proved that mosquitoes transmitted yellow fever and thus contributed to the control of that disease as well as malaria, ultimately enabling the building of the Panama Canal. MAJ Reed was unaware that his discoveries would have such a transformative effect on America's future; he was driven by a thirst for knowledge and a commitment to improve the lives of his fellow human beings. His personal writings are filled with excitement and exultation when he realized he might have discovered a way to curb one of the deadliest diseases of his time (and for the 400 preceding years in the Americas). He applied knowledge, courage and clarity of thinking where passion and an almost religious belief in the cause and transmission of disease prevailed. His reasoned, dispassionate approach is being applied to the combat challenges of 2009: mild traumatic brain injury or concussion, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma management and infectious threats.

The Army has designated 2009 as the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer. Noncommissioned officers (NCOs) are essential to military medicine and to saving lives on the battlefield. NCOs make up 18 percent of AMEDD and play critical roles in every aspect of our support for the Army family.

As vital as our role is in treating and healing wounded or ill soldiers, protecting soldiers from injury and sickness is equally important. Led by dedicated NCOs like SGT Kerri Washington, who deployed from the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., to Baghdad with the 61st Medical Detachment, preventive medicine specialists keep our Army fit to fight.

Our medics are bringing new tools to the battlefield, helped by combat developers like MSG Christian Reid and SFC Raymond Arnold, whose work has improved the mine resistant ambush protected ambulance, Army combat helmet, combat arms ear plugs, improved outer tactical vest and fire-retardant uniforms.

The survival rate of servicemembers injured in combat is greater than 90 percent. This has been accomplished despite increasingly destructive weapons wielded by an adaptive enemy and wounds unparalleled in civilian trauma medicine. …

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