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Naval Medical Forces Atlantic talks challenges with regional commands

13 June 2023

From Bobbie A. Camp, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic Public Affairs and Outreach

In an effort to empower deckplate and senior leaders to address complex challenges and remove barriers, Rear Adm. Matthew Case, commander, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic (NMFL) and director, Tidewater Market, and Command Master Chief Zachary Pryor met with staff and toured approximately 75% of subordinate commands throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East over the past 11 months.

It is important that we get out to our teams in real-time to see what they are doing. I want to understand the challenges they are having and to help advocate for them.
NMFL Commander Rear Adm. Matthew Case

Challenges that Case and Pryor discussed during their visits included the understanding that more opportunities for specialized training and the availability of complex medical capabilities that are needed to support global force requirements.

“Think about the future and being deployed out in the middle of nowhere,” said Pryor to the group. “Think about where your training environment is, where you are possibly going to do combat operations, and what you can do every day to prepare for deployment.”

Through self-assessments, teams can create a culture of learning and continuous improvement to sharpen their competitive edge required not only for combat, but to also monitor for symptoms of disease and non-battle injuries (DBNI) that have historically had a significant impact on mission readiness and operations.

“There will be a lot of conflict, potentially, that will require casualty care,” said Case. “I also want you to be challenged by what you see here at the military treatment facilities and learning more about DBNI; what diseases are and how you will identify and account for those. I want you to talk and learn from each other and available resources to be better at your craft.”

To win in combat, teams should also be able to adapt, learn and improve faster than any adversary.
“To have that strategic advantage, we need to be ahead of the power curve,” empathized Case. “If we have active learners, who are learning every day, nobody can mess with us.”

Sailors and government civilians were able to directly discuss their concerns during a question-and-answer session on topics such as resources, advancement and career development, and assignments to expeditionary platforms.

“You might still go to the same hospital and do the same job that you were before,” explained Pryor.  “But instead of being assigned to the hospital, you will be assigned to the expeditionary platform at that hospital. So, when they deploy, all of you deploy together.”

The importance of resiliency and how deckplate leaders can better foster a positive environment was also stressed during the discussions. Leaders want to promote resiliency and help teams develop self-care tools before being involved in a conflict-type situation, where stress may be much higher.

“By finding those stress relief outlets every day – something that is yours – that you can take with you everywhere,” said Pryor. “Getting through that and how quickly you will bounce back from the different stressors you are facing, that is a part of resiliency.”

The command visits also included tours of medical centers, branch health clinics and military treatment facilities, and stellar performers were recognized during coin presentations.

Hospital Corpsman Julia Wentling, who works in audiology and occupational health at the Northwest Branch Health Clinic in Chesapeake, Virginia, was presented a coin and shared what she learned during the all-hands call.

“You always need to keep a bag packed,” said Wentling. “And that no matter what, you will always make it through the day.”

NMFL leaders will continue to visit subordinate commands over the next several months to engage and collaborate with Sailors and staff, and to allow for open communication.

“Thank you for serving our patients that come in every day,” concluded Case. “Thank you for serving your country, for stepping up and doing something that most people don’t do.”

Get Real, Get Better is a call to action for every Navy leader to apply a set of Navy-proven leadership and problem-solving best practices that empower our people to achieve exceptional performance.

NMFL, headquartered in Portsmouth, Virginia, delivers operationally focused medical expertise and capabilities to meet Fleet, Marine and Joint Force requirements by providing equipment, sustainment and maintenance of medical forces during combat operations and public health crises. NMFL provides oversight for 21 NMRTCs, logistics, and public health and dental services throughout the U.S. East Coast, U.S. Gulf Coast, Cuba, Hawaii, Europe, and the Middle East.

Navy Medicine – represented by more than 44,000 highly-trained military and civilian health care professionals – provides enduring expeditionary medical support to the warfighter on, below, and above the sea, and ashore.


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