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Sailor first in Army Medic 68W Program

By William Love | Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi | Oct. 25, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Seaman Daniel R. Frink, the first Sailor in the Army’s 68W Utilization Program, was awarded the silver badge by Brooke Army Medical Center Deputy Commanding Officer Col. Traci Crawford at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Oct. 18.

The ceremony recognized the first Navy hospital corpsman to undergo the Army’s new program launched Jan. 17. That program concentrates on readiness, allowing medics to practice the necessary skills required to maintain their core competencies in preparation for being forward-deployed.

Readiness is a top Navy Medicine priority.

The opportunity for Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi corpsmen to train with Army medics in this program was as welcomed as it was unexpected.

On Aug. 16, Brooke Army Medical Center commanding general Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson visited Corpus Christi Army Depot that included a tour at Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi later in the day.

During Johnson’s visit, NHCCC commanding officer Capt. Miguel A. Cubano, who up to that time had been unaware of the Army’s 68W program, discussed his idea for getting corpsmen practical experience at a Level I trauma center.

Cubano is a surgeon and had already exchanged thoughts with one of his close friends, a director at Ben Taub, in Houston, one of three Level I trauma centers in Southeast Texas.

Johnson was receptive to Cubano’s ideas and suggested that NHCCC hospital corpsmen obtain their hands-on training in San Antonio.

Cubano replied without hesitation.

“Sir, if you open those doors, I’ll tell you right now we’ll definitely take you up on that,” Cubano said, adding that it was as simple as a handshake and a willingness to participate.

“I was very pleasantly surprised at how open the general and his command sergeant major were about us participating,” Cubano said.

Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi’s priorities are readiness, health and partnerships, so collaborating with the Army about improving readiness in a joint environment is the perfect opportunity for outstanding Navy corpsmen like Frink.

Frink, from Simsbury, Conn., reported to Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi San Antonio Detachment in February 2017.

He participates in sick call for active duty Army, Navy and Air Force students stationed on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. He also helps manage readiness for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard population in the San Antonio area.

“I had no idea what a hospital corpsman was before walking into a recruitment office for the Navy. My recruiter was an AO2 (Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class) that had nothing but good things to say about the doctors he’s worked with and around,” Frink said. “He sold me on the history and the opportunity that corpsmen have in today’s Navy.

“When I was able to work at Naval Hospital Guam in the inpatient setting I had a chance to see my work actively affect someone’s life and health. I always enjoyed being able to help someone and Navy Medicine is allowing me to do that.”

During his short time in San Antonio, Frink achieved recognition as the Blue Jacket of the fourth quarter, fiscal 2017. His new silver badge is just another indication of his dedication to Navy Medicine.

The Army medics that Frink trained with wear color-coded badges to serve as a visual cue for the healthcare team so they know the 68W’s level of proficiency.

Level one is a black badge, which signifies the new 68W possesses basic skills. Level two’s silver badge shows the medic has demonstrated all direct patient care skills, but not yet completed their table eight high stakes simulation competencies. If the medic achieves all of their competencies, they become “Master Medics” and obtain a gold badge.

Frink is now eligible to complete his requirements for the coveted gold.

“We’re very proud of him and proud of the jointness and the offer that the general and Command Sgt. Maj. Diamond Hough provided us to allow our corpsmen to go to the only military premier Level I trauma center in the area,” said Cubano, who plans to send additional deserving Sailors who are very eager to learn.