Face of Defense: Combat Medic Continues Quest for Badge
By Army Sgt. Quentin Johnson
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
FORT HOOD, Texas, May 29, 2014 Former President Richard M. Nixon once said, “Defeat doesn’t finish a man -- quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”
Army Spc. Jessica Lazo, a Miami native and combat medic with Company C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, calls in a simulated 9-line medical evacuation report on a combat testing lane during the III Corps Expert Field Medical Badge test at Fort Hood, Texas, May 15, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Quentin Johnson
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army combat medic Spc. Jessica Lazo’s story is not one of an inspiring accomplishment or defeat, but a never-quit attitude as she continues her quest to earn the Expert Field Medical Badge.
Lazo tried and failed to earn the badge during testing conducted here from May 10 to May 20. It was her fourth attempt to earn the badge in nearly two years of trying.
The EFMB test is a 10-day event in which soldiers in medical career fields can earn the coveted badge by performing more than 30 critical and medical tasks through three separate combat testing lanes, said Army Maj. Matthew Mapes, the 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion’s executive officer and the EFMB officer-in-charge.
The 10 days are broken up into five days of testing-lane study and five days of actual testing with a 60-question written test on the first day and a 12-mile march on the last day, said Mapes, a native of Highland Park, Illinois.
All aspects of the test are timed and graded. Upon successful completion of all the events, each participant will receive the EFMB, he said.
Lazo, assigned to Company C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was one of approximately 173 Fort Hood soldiers to tackle the test.
She said her journey started in September 2012, when she was a private and competing for the EFMB for the first time.
“I originally wanted to earn [the EFMB] for career progression and to keep myself competitive in my field,” she said.
Lazo said she had no expectations on the outcome of the test but was dedicated to doing her best.
“I did my best. [I] studied at night and learned all I could from my instructors,” she said.
Despite Lazo’s best efforts, her lack of experience in land navigation caused her to fail the event and she was dropped from testing, she said. Never one to accept defeat, Lazo continued to train and grow from the experience to attempt the test the following year.
Lazo, who hails from Miami, said she took the EFMB test again on Jan. 13, 2013. This test, Lazo said, was conducted at Fort Bliss, Texas, which came with an entirely different type of terrain from what she was accustomed to.
“The test was very similar in terms of testing, but the geography was different,” she added. “I better-prepared myself the second time, especially in land navigation.”
She kept a committed attitude and successfully passed the land navigation portion of the test, she said. However, that triumph proved to be short-lived.
“I was more than eight miles into the foot march,” she said. “It was cold and without really noticing what was happening, I passed out,” she said.
Lazo said moping around was not the answer. Instead she learned from her mistakes and refused to give up.
“The third attempt was more personal, like a vendetta between me and the badge,” she said.
Lazo said she studied harder and steeled herself for another attempt.
“I understand the test’s attrition rate is high, but I will accomplish this,” she said. “I know it is possible to succeed.”
At this year’s EFMB test, Lazo said she was disqualified after the land navigation portion of the test.
“It was heartbreaking,” she said. “I prepared but couldn’t have anticipated how difficult it was to navigate the test site’s terrain.”
Lazo said she isn’t ready to concede defeat.
“I really want this badge,” she said.
Lazo’s advice to soldiers wanting to earn the EFMB is to train hard and don’t give up. She said her fourth attempt to earn the badge is scheduled this fall.