I was privileged to join the Navy’s Medical Service Corps as it celebrated the Corps’ 60th year of existence. Until I received the invitation, I knew little about the organization, other than they were the ones who ran our military hospitals. As I looked closer, however, I was surprised to see the diversity of the group – there are Hospital Administrators, for sure, but there are also two other groups – Health Care Sciences (Aerospace Physiologists, Industrial Hygenists, and Microbiologists, among others), and Clinical Care Providers (Dieticians, Optometrists, Audiologists, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, and more).
During the evening, I was certainly impressed with all the brainpower in the room. But what struck me most was the dedication with which they viewed their profession. Every day, they deal with terrible, warfare-induced injuries in some of the most hostile environments in the world…and they deliver. When the Corps Director Rear Admiral Mike Mittelman spoke, he told the crowd about the medical challenges facing military medical personnel all around the world. His clear message was that the American military will answer all challenges. I believed him, and so did everyone in the room.
I have visited several military hospitals, and as I have mentioned before, have been moved by the upbeat, bring-it-on spirit of the military patients being treated. That spirit is a testimony to the character of our military members; but also, it is a tribute to the care they receive from the dedicated professionals providing the treatment. Treatment, I am convinced, that is second to none.
America’s medical personnel represent two things to the rest of the world. First, they represent hope because of what they do – they make people feel better. But also, they represent hope because of what they are – they are Americans, and as such they bring the hope of a better life. In both regards, the Medical Service Corps (and its partners in the other medical fields) are fine examples of the American spirit. In many cases – when the military performs mercy missions in various parts of the world, for example – they become the face of the American military altogether.
Congratulations to the Medical Service Corps for 60 years of dedicated service. You are our heroes of the week.