Admiral Lauds Military Medical Professionals
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 16, 2006 U.S. military medical professionals are some of the best in the world and contribute greatly to American operations around the world, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told more than 300 graduates at the 2006 National Capital Area Joint Service Graduation Ceremony here today.
Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks at the 2006 National Capital Area Joint Service Graduation Ceremony, which included graduates from the National Naval Medical Center, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. The ceremony was held in Bethesda, Md., June 16. Photo by Steven Donald Smith
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"All of you represent first-class medicine," Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani said. "Congratulations and well done to each and every one of you."
The graduates included medical interns, residents and fellows who received certificates from the National Naval Medical Center, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in specialties ranging from radiology to orthopedics.
"I am incredibly impressed by your dedication," Giambastiani said.
The admiral said that many in attendance would soon be deployed in support of troops fighting the global war on terrorism.
"We, in fact, are at war. Your country needs each and every one of you graduate trainees," he said. "More importantly, our operators and warfighters in the field need each and every one of you."
He said their medical professionalism instills a sense of confidence and comfort in all servicemembers and their families.
"You will do heroic work caring for our servicemembers and their families," he said. "These are our most precious assets."
Military medicine has made tremendous advancements over the past six decades, he said. During World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and up through Desert Storm, about 25 percent of Americans injured in combat eventually died from their wounds, he said.
"Today that number has been dramatically decreased to one in ten," he said. "That in itself is a huge accomplishment."
Giambastiani said military medical personnel are also doing tremendous work in the humanitarian assistance arena. He said that after a massive earthquake struck Pakistan last year, military medical folks were quickly on the ground, ready to help.
During that aid mission American military doctors treated 30,000 Pakistanis, he said.
"Pakistanis will always remember the CH-47 Chinook helicopters that carried doctors, patients and medical supplies. They were called angels of mercy by the Pakistanis," he said. "In fact, I've been told by visiting delegations from Pakistan that the favorite children's toy in Pakistan is the Chinook helicopter."
Missions such as these show the United States at its compassionate best, he said.
"In the end, medical professionals may help us do more to win this war on terror than purely kinetic operations," the admiral said. "We are forever grateful for the task each of you is about to take on."