Defense Health Agency medical teams on the job at presidential inaugural
Navy Lt. j.g. Kimberly Kozlowski, assigned to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, performs a blood pressure demonstration after the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States in Washington, D.C. More than 5,000 military members from across all branches of the armed forces of the United States, including Reserve and National Guard components, provided ceremonial support and Defense Support of Civil Authorities during the inaugural period. (DoD photo by Army Pvt. Genesis Gomez)
NO matter where in the world U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines serve, they can be sure their doctors, nurses, medics and corpsmen are nearby keeping them safe and healthy. So, when more than 5,000 service members took part in the 58th Presidential Inaugural on Jan. 20, 2017, the medical support from the National Capital Region was close at hand.
“It was really impressive to see and it took quite an effort to make it happen. The people who did the detailed planning really deserve a Bravo Zulu,” said Navy Rear Adm. David Lane, director of the National Capital Region (NCR) Medical Directorate. “Bravo Zulu” are the flags hoisted aboard ships to signal “Well Done.”
Almost 250 Defense Health Agency medical personnel from the NCR – mainly from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and joined by a team from the First Medical Brigade from Fort Hood, Texas – began assembling at the Pentagon at 2 a.m. on Inauguration Day, Lane said, and were on station in downtown Washington D.C., by 7 a.m. These teams manned seven medical stations and several roving medical teams to support the more than 5,000 service members taking part in the ceremony.
“It was a long day for them,” Lane said.
The long and successful operation did not come about overnight. It was the result of months of planning. The preliminary meetings to hammer out the thousands of details started in June 2016 and continued right through the Inaugural. Along with the medical teams on site, approximately 40 members of the DHA staff took part in the planning efforts.
“This is my second inauguration,” said Regan Simmons, medical operations officer with DHA’s Current Operations office. “It is difficult to compare the two because I served a different role for this one than I did for the previous one. But, from what I observed, there didn’t seem to be much of a difference with how medical personnel performed.”
Simmons explained that while the NCR medical teams would provide care to anyone attending the event in case of a severe emergency, that wasn’t their primary job.
“They are present to render medical support to the military along the parade route, and to Defense Department beneficiaries attending the inauguration,” Simmons explained.
Army Lt. Col. David Eigner, a staff pediatrician at Walter Reed-Bethesda and the NCR medical forces officer-in-charge for the Inaugural, summed up the medical teams’ experience.
“It was important for the Armed Forces to participate in the peaceful transition of power for our democracy,” Eigner said. “It was very encouraging to see the people present at the Inauguration support our military. We had numerous thanks for our service from civilians.”