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NEWS | June 30, 2023

559th Trainee Health Squadron commander prepares next generation of medically ready warfighters

By Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 559th Trainee Health Squadron paid special tribute to Lt. Col Adrienne Fields as she relinquished command, and they welcomed Lt. Col. Lena Williams Cox as she assumed command at the Pfingston Reception Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland June 16. 

The ceremony coincided with the weekend leading up to Juneteenth. Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, was officially declared a federal holiday in 2021 and is celebrated annually on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. 

“To be a commander is a heavy responsibility and I have been humbled since day one,” said Lt. Col. Lena Williams Cox, incoming commander of the 559th THLS. “I reflect on my ancestors, and all of those before me who had the fierceness and drive to fight for what is right. It is because of their relentless work that I not only have an opportunity to sit at the table … but I now have the honor of being at the head of the table.” 

The 559th THLS is one of three squadrons that fall under the 559th Medical Group and provides care to a diverse population comprised of active-duty military members, dependents, and civilians, as well as basic military trainees, technical training students, and students from around the world studying at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center and Inter-American Air Forces Academy. 

“Our mission here at the 559th THLS is integral, and it directly affects recruitment, retention, and mission readiness,” Williams Cox said. “It’s imperative that I take time now to build a relationship with my airmen so I can effectively communicate how important their contributions are which will inherently empower them to strive for more.”

Williams Cox intends to continue optimizing trainee readiness and patient-centered care through collaborative health delivery, education, training, and research while simultaneously prioritizing the needs of her airmen to succeed. 

“Medical readiness is twofold: ready medics and ensuring the warfighter is medically ready,” she said. “We are responsible for providing our airmen with the care they require to be warfighter ready through our clinics, mental health assessments, occupational physical therapy, sports medicine, etc. to ensure we keep them healthy and in the fight, but we also ensure our medical professionals have training, experience, and access to as many developmental opportunities as possible to continue providing exceptional medical care.” 

Providing the appropriate tools to create and sustain an environment in which all airmen can reach their full potential of being multi-capable and adaptable team builders, as well as innovative and courageous problem solvers, and demonstrate value in the diversity of thought, ingenuity, and initiation is how we will continue shaping our future, said General Charles Q. Brown Jr., Air Force Chief of Staff, as he addressed the concept of Accelerate Change or Lose in 2020. 

“It’s my responsibility to help the flight chiefs understand the mission and vision to continue filtering that information down to the lowest level so we can strengthen our team from the ground up,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Eckley, 559th THLS senior enlisted leader. “The key is to develop strong relationships with our leaders and airmen, and incrementally implement change that is aligned to support our customers in the way they need instead of how we have always done it.”

Eckley emphasized that it is his job to ensure that when plans are being created and put into motion, they are not just the ideas or needs of the commander, but rather a collective plan that is communicated in an executable manner. 

According to Gen. Brown, the Air Force must accelerate change to control and exploit the air domain. He explained that the failure to change or adapt carries the risk of loss – the loss of quality airmen, credibility, and ultimately the ability to secure the nation’s future. 

“Although change can bring a fog of disruption, I want to help others see through it, and the best way I have seen this happen is by setting the example and showing people with your actions, how to do what’s expected of you, and others begin to mirror that,” Williams Cox said. “That’s how we become one supportive team, driven by change, and with those things combined I’m certain that we will continue to do wonderful work with and for our people over the next two years.”