JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
During a low-key ceremony held July 21 at the Medical Education and Training Campus at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Air Force Col. David Walmsley became the sixth METC commandant after relieving Navy Capt. Thomas Herzig, who will retire later this month.
The ceremony took place immediately following the quarterly METC Board of Directors meeting chaired by Dr. Barclay Butler, Assistant Director for Support, Defense Health Agency, and attended by representatives from several Department of Defense medical organizations, including the command teams of the Army, Navy, and Air Force’s medical components: the Army Medical Center of Excellence; the Naval Medical Forces Support Command; and the 59th Medical Wing.
In his remarks, Barclay congratulated Herzig for his exemplary leadership as METC commandant.
“You have set the highest standards for the military education that we provide our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen during your tenure as the commandant of the METC," Barclay said. "Thanks to your leadership we graduate nearly 17,000 professionals every year from the METC. Those professionals go on to provide care for our armed forces and our beneficiaries.
“These professionals are able to make a difference in people’s lives every single day because of what they have learned under your leadership with the faculty and staff at the METC,” Barclay added.
Barclay went on to praise Herzig for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing METC’s ability to keep the training pipeline open “and not miss a single beat in meeting our graduation requirements and servicing the requirements of the Combatant Commanders.”
He also pointed out how expanding the use of virtual resources and technology and implementing blended learning helped bolster METC’s ability to continue training through the challenges of the pandemic.
In addition, Barclay highlighted how METC has tripled the number of degree pathways available to METC graduates, from 600 in 2020 to 1,848 today, with 88 academic institutions across the country now granting college credit for education and training.
To Herzig, Barclay said, “Last year you guided the METC in its transition from being with the Defense Health Agency Education and Training Directorate to becoming its own Direct Reporting Organization within the Defense Health Agency. Tom, thank you for a job well done.”
Barclay then welcomed Walmsley as the new METC commandant and spoke about his experience working within the Military Health System, including assignments at Brooke Army Medical Center and in market offices as a staff officer within the San Antonio market and in the National Capitol Region.
“We really look forward to having you work with us.”
Before officially relinquishing the role of commandant, Herzig expressed his thanks to the METC Board of Directors for their support to METC, noting the tremendous progress that was made placing METC on a path for continued success while meeting the requirements of the services. He also acknowledged the staff and leadership of the DHA J-7 Directorate and Assistant Director for Support; the Navy Bureau of Medicine, Air Force Education and Training Command, and Army Medical Command; and the Uniformed Services University College of Health Sciences for the support they have all provided.
To METC staff and instructors, he said, “Your dedication and perseverance are unmatched, allowing METC to achieve its mission and deliver well-trained, enlisted medical professionals to the operational forces and for the MTFs (Medical Treatment Facilities).
“We’ve had a number of issues or setbacks over the past three years,” he continued. “Many units would have folded or buckled under the pressure. But METC, with our service colleagues, have worked together, collaborated, helped each other, and ensured that we graduated well-trained professionals.”
To the METC staff, Herzig said, “We cannot deliver on our mission without Operations, Logistics, Facilities, IT, or the Resource Management Teams. Sometimes we ask for the impossible and they still deliver. Your determination and advocacy for the programs is invaluable. Strategic Planning, another division that always delivers, makes sure that our partnerships with academic institutions across the country are strong and that our students are getting what they deserve.
“Academic Support drives, reviews and updates the curriculum as well as runs our Registrar’s office. METC cannot train without them. Standards and Evaluation, whether it's course surveys, reports to accrediting bodies or data analysis, METC cannot be an accredited body without their hard work.
“Academic Delivery - they are the programs. The instructors are amazing, delivering our trained professionals. Outside organizations are in awe of what we accomplish in the time that we’ve been given. In many cases, we deliver in 16 weeks in what it takes them to do in two or three years.
“To the Dean, Support Services, and the front office staff, you welcomed me warmly, you continued to provide guidance and historical knowledge, and helped me in ways that I cannot thank you enough. It has been my honor and pleasure to work and serve with you. I hope that through high leadership here at METC we’ve made it a better institution and that we’re on track to continue to push METC in the direction that we want it to go and that we know it needs to go. It will be in good hands with Col. Walmsley, of that I’m sure.
“Good luck. I’ll be watching from the sidelines.”
Walmsley, a pharmacist, previously served as the commander of the 59th Training Group, located on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. To read his biography click here.
Herzig, who served as METC commandant beginning in August 2019, will retire after 26 years of military service.