Change of command season begins: New commander pledges quality medical care

| June 4, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photo by
Les Ozawa
Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Gallagher takes charge of Pacific Regional Medical Command & Tripler AMC

Brig. Gen. Stephen Jones, (from left to right), Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, and Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher salute the nation’s flag during a the change of command ceremony at Tripler Army Medical Center, May 25. HONOLULU — As billowing afternoon clouds settled over Oahu’s southern horizon, here,  May 25, Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker handed Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher the organizational colors of Tripler Army Medical Center, in the time-honored Army ritual of passing the colors. 

The ceremony marked the change in leadership of the Pacific Regional Medical Command and Tripler Army Medical Center from Brig. Gen. Stephen Jones to Gallagher. 

The ceremony drew hundreds of guests and staff members to Tripler’s oceanside terrace in front of the hospital’s garrison flag, to bid Jones farewell and to welcome the new commander and his family.

In his remarks, ceremony host  Schoomaker praised the Pacific Regional Command and Tripler staff. 

“You have been on point for some of our most critical organizational practices regarding deploying and redeploying Soldiers, and in ensuring that they remain healthy and that their families are well-cared for, their children reached out to and nurtured, and that problems for any member of this Army family are recognized early and managed compassionately and effectively,” Schoomaker said.

Turning to Jones, Schoomaker recalled, “I leaned on Steve heavily when he commanded Fort Campbell’s (Ky.) Blanchfield Community Hospital, early in the war. 

“I remember vividly his asking to be deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom after finishing command,” Schoomaker continued. “He ended up doing back-to-back deployments as a senior medical leader in both Afghanistan and in Iraq, a tribute to his devotion to Soldiers. 

“He has continued this enlightened leadership here over the past two years,” Schoomaker said.

Jones, who leaves Tripler for assignment in the National Capitol Region, Washington, D.C., began his farewell remarks by thanking his staff. 

“I’m here today to say thanks to the proud Soldiers and civilians of the Pacific Regional Medical Command,” Jones said.

“A few are standing before you in formation, but most are providing care in wards, clinics or in the fields of Hawaii, Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palau, Cambodia, Laos and Honduras,” Jones added.

He continued, “When you return from deployment, you’re welcomed back, but not by bands, but by a few close friends. But that doesn’t matter, because you draw your reward from knowing that you touch lives, you make a difference, and that when the service members, families and veterans across the Pacific need help, you are the ones they turn to first.”

Gallagher, who is serving his first tour in the Pacific area of operations after commanding Europe Regional Medical Command, shared his first impressions of Hawaii. 

“In the short time that I have been here in Hawaii, I have been impressed with the overwhelming friendliness and the people of Hawaii,” Gallagher said.

“I can see immediately that our staff clearly sees that our patients and units with whom we serve are the reason for our existence,” Gallagher added, then continued, “I pledge that we will continue to provide the finest quality medical care to these brave and courageous men and women and their families.

“I pledge that we will endeavor to improve the health status of every patient currently enrolled in our military health system,” Gallagher added. “I pledge that we will continue to improve the readiness and the competency of our field medical units. 

“I pledge that we will continue to sustain the gains in behavioral health, access to care, Veterans Administration health care, warriors in transition, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, and in the patient-centered medical home,” he concluded.

Category: Leadership, News

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