Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas —
Eighty-four candidates converged on Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis March 17 to begin their quest for the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge. Only 14 Soldiers walked away with the esteemed badge during a ceremony held March 28.
Following in-processing, the candidates cycled through a week of standardization to learn the performance standards and what was expected of them during testing.
During testing week, the candidates first took their written exam, which included questions from four categories: warrior skill level one tasks, medical detainee operations, field sanitation and medical tasks.
Army Capt. Paul Rosbrook, Company B, 187th Medical Battalion, received the highest score on the written test.
“This is not an opportunity that comes around often for officers,” Rosbrook said about the opportunity to go for the badge. “I realize that if you want these things, you have to recognize opportunities and take them.”
Rosbrook credited the cadre for the support he received during the standardization phase.
“Since I’m a dietitian, I’m not very skilled in a lot of the things we were taught out here,” Rosbrook said. “I give a lot of credit to the great training we received. It was spectacular, just how much time and attention to detail they gave us. They really set a lot of us up for success.”
After the written test, candidates had to complete both day and night land navigation. If they were able to prove their skills, they advanced to the three Combat Testing Lanes, or CTLs, where they had to demonstrate their warrior skills as well as medical knowledge, completing tasks from four categories: tactical combat casualty care, evacuation, communications and warrior skills.
Each task on the CTLs and land navigation is evaluated as either “Go” or “No-Go.”
Army 1st Lt. Devon Furey, Company A, Brooke Army Medical Center Troop Command, received the most “Go’s” during her quest for the EFMB this time around. Last year in Colorado, she fell short of the time she needed to complete the foot march by just 50 seconds.
“I was determined to pass this year,” Furey said. “Having the most ‘Go's’ was an honor. I thought it was a direct reflection of the effort put forth by the graders on all of the CTLs who trained us during standardization week, and the ones who spent extra time after the study hall period was over to work with us to make sure we would get it right during testing week.
“Support from my fellow Soldiers pushed me to succeed and watching my fellow Soldiers pass their lanes at the end of the day made me happier than hearing that I passed mine,” Furey said. “Pushing each other to succeed is what EFMB is all about.”
The culminating event was the 12-mile foot march, which tested the candidate’s physical stamina, state of training and mental attitude.
Army Spc. Harold Owiti finished the foot march with a time of 2 hours, 33 minutes, 8 seconds, making him the first to complete all of the events.
Owiti said the foot march wasn’t that tough for him. The most challenging thing for him was the mental aspect of trying to complete the tasks during the EFMB.
“I had to change how I think so I could make it through,” Owiti said. “I’m not going to lie, there were days I felt like I wasn’t going to make it, but I have friends, family and my wife. I would talk to them on the phone. People kept encouraging me and putting me in the mindset that I was going to get it and every day I was doing one task at a time.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Luciano, Defense Health Agency senior enlisted advisor, was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony.
Luciano began by congratulating the Soldiers who earned their badge. “It’s a great day to be a Soldier and it’s a great day to be a Soldier Medic,” he said.
He praised the Soldiers for their grit as he described his own experience trying to earn the EFMB, which took him three tries to achieve and how he felt after completing the 12-mile road march.
“I would like to say I was walking a little taller and looking a little sharper,” Luciano said. “But, honestly I was looking like John Wayne who just got off a horse after riding 100 miles. I could barely walk and I needed a medic. But I was done with it.
“It was no joke,” he said. “That was a test that really put the grit to you.”
Luciano encouraged the Soldiers who didn’t achieve the EFMB this time to keep trying.
“For those Soldiers who didn’t get the badge this time, all I can say is challenge it again,” he said. “Never quit, it’s not in your DNA to quit. A combat medic is not going to quit on the battlefield either.”
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson, BAMC commanding general, agreed.
“Successful leadership is not about getting to the goal every time the first time, it’s about what you do thereafter,” Johnson said. “It’s about how you pick up the pieces and learn from what you have experienced and then move forward.”
Johnson said it takes more than excelling in a series of tasks on the CTLs to make Soldiers better medics on the battlefield. It’s the grit, determination and attention to detail they learned during the EFMB that will help them succeed.
“Having the badge is more about a confidence that I can accomplish hard things than the prestige of wearing it,” said Army Lt. Col. Chad Bangerter, an endodontist at Budge Dental Clinic, who decided to go for the badge because a co-worker challenged him.
This was the first time BAMC has hosted an EFMB qualification event.
“I think it went really well,” said Army Capt. Jessie Smith, officer in charge. “I believe we are the first military treatment facility to ever host an EFMB event.
“We have shown that it can be done and we should continue to do this to continue to build leaders and create badge holders,” Smith concluded.