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Brig. Gen. Michael Place, center, accepts the colors from Surgeon General of the US Army Lt. Gen. Nadja West during Regional health Command - Atlantic’s Change of Command Ceremony on Fort Belvoir’s Long Parade Field last Friday.

 

In a series of time-honored, Army traditions, Fort Belvoir’s Long Parade Field was the site, last week, for a major general’s promotion ceremony, a change of leadership and a unique parade of troops, all for Regional Health Command- Atlantic, based out of Fort Belvoir.

The first order of the day was Brig. Gen. Telita Crosland’s promotion ceremony to major general. In it, Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West, the Army’s 44th surgeon general and commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Command, lauded Crosland’s accomplishments. “She is an exceptionally qualified leader and strategic thinker who helped lead Army Medicine into the future,” West said. “Brig. Gen. Crosland is a compassionate and caring physician and leader who has served at Army health clinics and medical centers around the world and has understood the need for readiness,” adding there’s never a tasking or mission Crosland didn’t find a solution for.

At Regional Health Command- Atlantic, West said Crosland has been laser-focused on the Army’s number-1 priority: ensuring the medical readiness of Soldiers. “Her leadership insights have been invaluable and strategic and show a phenomenal balance between leadership skills and ability,” she said.

“Brig. Gen. Crosland knows that power and rank must be tempered with reason and strategic understanding. Her creative leadership is based upon clear thinking, the ability to provide insights to problem-solving and the courage to accept responsibility, when times are tough,” West said, adding leaders also continue to evaluate their own skills and adapt, as necessary, when there are better ideas.

“Leaders start the dialog that fosters success, listen to feedback and develop the next generation of leaders,” West said. “And successes are always a team effort.” 

A grateful Soldier

In her remarks, Crosland said she couldn’t get the word ‘grateful’ out of her head.

“I’m grateful for having Brigadier General West as my regional commander back in 2011; I’m grateful to have the opportunity to serve under you and with you, and to learn to grow from those opportunities,” Crosland said.

“I’m grateful for our mission. Every day, I get to serve two noble professions … the Profession of Arms and Medicine. Military medicine represents a unique privilege to contribute every single day to serve beside the most amazing human beings, in order to take care of the most deserving individuals,” she said.

“And, I’m grateful to have such a meaningful purpose in life. Each assignment brought new people into my life who humbled me with their intellect, capacity, competency and passion for the mission. I’m blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to serve the most deserving, with the most amazing teams. “It really has been one great team after the next,” she added. 

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Change is constant

“We want to continue the day’s celebration, by changing command to another phenomenal leader,” West said. “The time-honored tradition ensures continuity of command,” she said. “Every leader at every level plays a critical role in the Army.

Each has a role in ensuring their unit, no matter what size, operates in the most effective manner possible.“Each commander helps build the future by ensuring their unit is the best-trained, most resilient and ready to respond in any crisis, ensuring every unit is fit, ready and responsive, no matter the mission,” West said.

“We’re witnessing the transfer of command from one dedicated leader to the next,” West said. “I’ve had a chance to work with them and know them. They are two of Army Medicine’s finest leaders.

Ironically, when they were each captains, Brig. Gen. Michael Place and West served together as Family medicine residents at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“It was awesome seeing him in action then, as a thoughtful, caring physician and resident,” West said. “I couldn’t have known the heights that he’d reach today, but I’m not surprised at all.”

“As our MEDCOM transitions, and our Army transitions, the mission here will continue under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Mike Place, who has been the deputy commanding general of Regional Health Command Pacific.

“Brig. Gen. Place is deeply committed to the readiness of our Soldiers and the care of their Families,” West said. “You’ll have many challenges ahead, but I have great confidence in your ability to lead this command. 

The way forward 

"You've all heard Regional Health Command is a great places," Place said. "We have 20,000 Soldiers taking care of more than a half million beneficiaries in the Eastern half of the country, a large, geographical area. We take care of hundreds of military working dogs; conduct thousands of air, water and soil samples every day and make a difference in the health and well-being of America’s Army. “We are ready to go, fight, win our nation’s wars,” he said.