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NEWS | May 23, 2014

U.S. Army Dental Command welcomes new leader

By Esther Garcia AMEDDC&S Public Affairs

The U.S. Army Dental Command welcomed Col. Don Grimes as their new commander and bid farewell to outgoing commander Col. Thomas Tempel Jr. at a May 14 change of command ceremony at MacArthur Parade Field.

The ceremony included a change of responsibility between Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Osorio, the interim command sergeant major, and incoming Command Sgt. Maj. Leon Archer.

Soldiers representing the U.S. Army Dental Command from around the world participated in the ceremony. The five regional subordinate commands represented included the Southern, Western, Northern, Europe and the Pacific Regional Dental Commands, and the U.S. Army Dental Laboratory.

The Army Dental Command is also in charge of 25 dental activities, 18 dental clinic commands and oversees 130 dental treatment facilities worldwide, providing care in all specialty areas of dentistry.

"It is not about what they have done, but about what they have not done," said Maj. Gen. Brian Lein, deputy Army Surgeon General and deputy commanding general for operations of the U.S. Army Medical Command, as he spoke about the accomplishments of the command under the Tempel's leadership.
"They have led the way in the readiness of the Soldier through initiatives increasing wellness from 20 percent to more than 47 percent."

Lein noted that the command returned more than a billion hours of training time back to the commands, increased dental readiness to new levels, increased the readiness of the Soldier and better prepared dental teams to deploy.

The command also instituted an on-boarding program, cutting in-processing time from just under a month to 12 days, providing better stability for Soldiers and families, with a more predictable scheduling process which opens up thousands of new appointments.

"Combining care with dieticians and other health care providers has markedly reduced the risk of cavities as well as improving health," Lein said. "We are following the Army Surgeon General's vision of transforming from a healthcare system to a system for health.

"Don, as you assume the mantle of leadership again, may you continue to demonstrate the humility, integrity and commitment that has brought you this far," Lein said to Grimes. "Lead from the front and know that your family has your back as they have done for the past 34-plus years."

"You can't imagine how honored I am to take the reins of this outstanding organization," said Grimes, who began his Army career as a 91B medic in San Antonio.

Grimes enlisted in the Army in 1975 and served as a Special Forces Medic in the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). In 1981, he graduated from the Reserve Officer Training Corps and as an infantry second lieutenant, he served as a detachment commander in the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Utah Army National Guard.

Upon return to active duty, he served as a dental officer in numerous positions overseas and stateside. Grimes was the staff officer to the dental corps chief's office, Office of The Surgeon General, Falls Church, Va., and became the deputy corps chief in 2013.

Later the same day, Tempel was promoted to major general at a ceremony held at the Fort Sam Houston Post Theater.

Tempel's new assignment is special assistant to the Army Surgeon General.