FORT MCCOY, Wis. –
U.S. Army Soldiers (49 of them) from active, National Guard and Army Reserve components journeyed to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, to compete in the 2023 U.S. Army Reserve Medical Command (AR-MEDCOM) Expert Field Medical Badge competition here, April 30 - May 12, 2023. Hosted primarily by the Central Medical Area Readiness Support Group (CE-MARSG) out of Fort Sheridan, Illinois, this year's competition marks the third consecutive event managed by AR-MEDCOM.
Since its inaugural debut in 1965, the EFMB competition has challenged Soldiers in their technical proficiency and tactical acumen under extreme stress and scrutiny.
"It is a coveted badge that really exemplifies expertise, both in warrior and medical skills," said U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Kevin Stoll, a health services materiel officer and commandant of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Army Reserve Medical Command (AR-MEDCOM) out of Pinellas Park, Florida. "And for me, I want to take this back to my team and unit to make sure that they see that it can be accomplished. If they wish to pursue it, I want to provide them all of the training and resources available that I can give them to make them successful."
Although optional in nature, many of this year's candidates took advantage of train-up events to prepare themselves in their physical fitness and knowledge.
"I had the benefit of coming to a train-up on November 2022, which was awesome," said U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Douglas Faulkner, a family medicine physician assigned to 7453rd Medical Operational Readiness Unit (MORU), CE-MARSG, AR-MEDCOM. "I worked out like a crazy person. I also have the benefit in being in a unit with a lot of high-speed medics that helped me out working on some of my more technical skills to get kind of to the point where I'm at now."
Promotion points have doubled for the EFMB (as well as for the Expert Infantryman Badge and Expert Soldier Badge) as of April 1, 2023. According to U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Matthew Moxley, a psychiatric/behavioral health nurse with the 7452nd Medical Operational Readiness Unit out of San Diego, California and an EFMB holder as well as Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) lane grader for 2023 USAR EFMB, this recent change can incentivize more Army Reserve medical Soldiers to try out for future EFMB competitions.
"Schools are going to be much more important now that the promotion points that you get for the EFMB are doubled," said Moxley. "It used to be 30 points for an EFMB, but it is now 60 points. I think that these schools are going to become much more relevant and more popular as people realize that. I think that we will see a big influx of people wanting to go for the EFMB, as this is a huge one for any Soldier related to the medical field."
Following two weeks of arduous training and testing lanes, eight out of 49 competitors prevailed at the end and were announced as the EFMB recipients on May 12, 2023 during the awards ceremony here. Faulkner and Stoll were among the eight EFMB recipients, along with Wisconsin Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Talon Dumke of Madison, Wisconsin; U.S. Army Sgt. Jared Forshey from 6th Ranger Training Battalion out of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; U.S. Army Capt. Carson Beaty from Dental Health Command out of Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington; U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Vladislav Troshin from 377th Ground Ambulance Company out of White River Junction, Vermont; U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Ian Kai from 7454th MORU out of Joint Base San Antonio - Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Devon Kooi from 7249th Medical Support Unit out of Houston, Texas.
U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Scott Lynn, commanding general of AR-MEDCOM, referenced the story of U.S. Army Pfc. Jesse Funk, a World War I-era Medal of Honor recipient, to illustrate the vital significance of Army medics.
"I don't bring this up purely to berate or anything like that, or to put a damp cloud on the celebratory occasion of you earning your EFMB," said Lynn. "I just do it to help you think about rounding out that three-legged stool, rounding out your experience and your ability to be that medic that we so desperately need in the Army and the nation."
"The reason that you are an Army medic is the same reason that he was: your nation needs you, and the Army needs you - both the organization and the individual Soldiers," Lynn said. "Once again, thank you for being here, thank you for your efforts and congratulations."
Several of the EFMB recipients have attributed some of their successes to the mentorship and guidance that helped to propel them in the right direction. Both Faulker and Stoll share this sentiment; the latter naming several individuals to include Brig. Gen. Beth Salisbury, current deputy commanding general for operations at the 3rd Medical Command Deployment Support out of Fort Gillem, Georgia, and Retired Col. Roger Boutin.
"(I'd like to thank) all of the current leadership that have given me this opportunity to participate in the EFMB - Maj. Gen. Scott Lynn, Retired Maj. Gen. Johnathan Woodson (current president for Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences), Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Boudnik, Col. Michael Kauffman, and Maj. Stacy Black," said Stoll. "Also, just the inspiration of former leaders of mine like Retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Sauter, Brig. Gen. Beth Salisbury, Sgt. Maj. Robert Bennett, Col. (Ret.) Roger Boutin and Retired Col. Richard Bailey. I had a lot of leaders that have always pushed me to be better, opportunities to make mistakes, and to learn and grow from them to make me a better person and Soldier altogether."
"I know that it has made me a better Soldier, and it is going to make the people around me better Soldiers as well and encourage ongoing excellence," Faulkner said.