FORT McCOY, Wis. –
In only the second Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) competition held by the U.S. Army Reserve, Soldiers from both active duty and Reserve units participated in the grueling two-week event from May 1-13, 2022 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
Of 49 original contestants, only five Soldiers earned the badge.
The recipients of AR-MEDCOM’s 2022 Expert Field Medical Badge are Pfc. Brayden Faul out of the 807th Medical Command Deployment Support, Fort Douglas, Utah, Sgt. Baylie Bialas, Winn Army Community Hospital, Fort Stewart, Georgia; Staff Sgt. Samuel Warsley, Moncrief Army Health Clinic, Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Staff Sgt. Garrett Troutt, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; and Capt. Prayer Watson, National Training Center, Operations Group, Fort Irwin, California.
For some Soldiers, repetition was key to help them succeed in this competition.
“This is my fourth attempt at the EFMB,” said Warsley, a pharmacy tech and New Orleans native. “I really appreciate everyone who has supported me. My favorite part of this competition has been bonding with like-minded individuals chasing a common goal,” said Warsley.
Warsley was not the only Soldier with EFMB experience.
Troutt competed three times prior and Watson has also competed previously. Not giving up the pursuit of earning the badge is a testament to these Soldiers’ determination and resilience.
The participants had no shortage of obstacles to overcome in their quest to obtain the badge. The EFMB competition began with written testing, and had cognitive and physical testing throughout. The contestants started off by taking a modified version of the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). The modified ACFT included the hand-release-pushup, sprint-drag-carry, and the two-mile-run. After the ACFT, participants attempted to find points during day and night land navigation. Three days of highly scrutinized battlefield medical care and warrior tasks followed, during which most contestants were cut after receiving two “no gos.” Those who passed all of the intense technical testing needed to complete a timed 12-mile ruck march ending in a weapons functions check to earn the badge.
Soldiers competing for the EFMB have to hold a medical military occupational specialty or (MOS). Since this badge is specifically for the Army’s medical professionals, medical skills are the central focus to earning the badge. Even full-time medical providers were cut from consideration after missing a few, seemingly minor details.
“The Expert Field Medical Badge is the highest badge that can be awarded in the Army’s medical department,” said Maj. Gen. Jonathan Woodson, AR-MEDCOM commanding general. “It signifies excellence in performance of field medic duties. Only 15 percent of the competitors qualify,” said Woodson.
Many of the Soldiers that participated spent weeks or months training prior to the competition. They took advantage of the breaks they got in between lanes and events to do extra studying.
“What I enjoy most is seeing the high speed, high quality Soldiers that come through this competition,” said Col. Allen Queen, an Army dentist with the 7458th Medical Operations Readiness Unit, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“The EFMB is a very coveted badge and one that holds a very high level of precedence,” said Queen.
“Soldiers who achieve it wear it proudly and they are usually the ones that become outstanding performers and leaders in their units,” said Woodson. “It’s always a great day … when I get to pin badges on new Soldiers,” he said.
“Earning the badge gives you a certain feeling that can’t be accomplished any other way,” agreed Queen, also a badge holder himself.
In this competition, the best are truly trained by the best. While it is a small community, many of the cadre who helped with the event are badge holders.
“I love being able to instruct,” said Sgt. David Ayala, combat medic with the 7235th Medical Support Unit, Orlando, Florida. “I wanted to be able to mentor, and help foster the new group of badge holders,” he said.
Woodson, a badge holder as well, stressed the meaning of earning the badge in the medical community.
“I wear the badge proudly,” said Woodson. “It taught me a lot. It gave me confidence to perform my duties under combat situations when I was deployed. It’s about training to a superior standard so that Soldiers can perform their duties when called upon in combat operations.”