Soldier Medics Re-enlist in Nation’s Capital
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2008 A group of soldier-medics, whose duties adhere to the Hippocratic Oath to provide ethical medical treatment, pledged allegiance to another credo today -- the oath of re-enlistment.
Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric B. Schoomaker, Army surgeon general, administers the oath of reenlistment to a group of soldier-medics during an Oct. 2, 2008, re-enlistment ceremony between the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. DoD photo by John J. Kruzel
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Between the Lincoln Memorial and the reflecting pool here, nearly 80 troops stood at attention as Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric B. Schoomaker, Army surgeon general, recited a passage from Lincoln’s second inaugural address.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,” he said, “let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Before administering the oath of re-enlistment to the formation of troops standing at attention, Schoomaker said, “Your willingness to raise your hand and re-enlist speaks volumes about you and your love of country.”
One soldier re-enlisting today was Spc. Crystal Conner, a respiratory therapist, who along with many of the soldiers at today’s ceremony works at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.
She originally enlisted in 2002 to prove to her family that she is dependable, and that she could do something without them “hovering over” her. “I know I’ve done that,” she said, “and more.”
Having achieved her original goal, Conner said, she continues serving in the Army – with today marking her second re-enlistment -- because she feels it’s her calling.
“I’ve been deployed to Iraq before, so I can kind of sympathize with the soldiers coming back, and I know what they’ve been through,” said Conner, who deployed to Baghdad in 2004 for a year. There's nothing she'd rather do than take care of wounded soldiers, she added.<
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Rudy DelValle, command sergeant major of Walter Reed Health Care System, said those re-enlisting represent troops who love their duties as soldiers.
“They love what leadership is doing for them right now. They love their country, the sacrifices they’re making, they want to be a soldier, they want to take care of people,” he said. “There are only about five soldiers getting re-enlistment bonuses. The rest of them are doing it only because they want to be a soldier.”
Army Col. (Dr.) Norvell Coots, commander of Walter Reed Health Care System, said the re-enlistment of medics illustrates a show of support to the military and provides a boost to morale within the unit.
“Usually, you hope to get this many throughout an entire year,” he said of re-enlistments. “And here we’ve accomplished that on the second day of the fiscal year. It’s just an amazing sense of patriotism on the behalf of these medical soldiers.”
Staff Sgt. Clayton Eric Cunningham re-enlisted today for the second time in his seven-year tenure in the Army. As a warrior transition squad leader at Walter Reed, Cunningham’s job involves helping wounded troops transition after returning home from deployment. His favorite part of the job is interacting with veterans, he said.
Cunningham recalled a special bond he forged with a young Army specialist who was injured when a makeshift bomb struck his Humvee in Iraq. As a result, the soldier suffered from traumatic brain injury, a mental condition characterized by headaches, dizziness, lack of motor coordination, memory loss and other symptoms.
“It threw him out of the vehicle. It killed the other three people inside,” Cunningham recalled. “He got really messed up -- really bad TBI. He couldn’t remember his name a lot of the time.”
Cunningham said it was great to see the young soldier’s condition improve under the warrior transition program.
“It’s really cool to see them advance in their medical treatment and get better,” he said. nbsp;