By L.A. Shively, Navy Medicine Support Command Public Affairs
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (NNS) -- Navy Medicine and the Hospital Corps marked the milestone of the relocation of the Naval Hospital Corps School from Great Lakes, Ill., to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, during a ceremony aboard Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston, April 21.
"The Commandant's Own," the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, performed as Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen from the tri-service Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) attended the ceremony.
"METC is both a place and an idea," said Rear Adm. William R. Kiser, METC inaugural commandant. "As a place it represents new buildings and infrastructure, which is absolutely world class. As an idea, it is always good to train like we fight. It's always good to come together to get know each other and develop trust in each other before we show up on the battlefield."
Hospital Corpsman training at Fort Sam Houston continues to include basic courses taught in Navy service-unique classes but now adds multi-service integrated classes. Navy Corpsmen began training in advanced "C School" classes at METC in May 2010. The BRAC deadline for all students to train at the METC is Sept. 14.
The average daily student load for basic and advanced medical training is estimated to be about 9,000 Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen, making METC the world's largest military medical education and training facility.
Force Master Chief Laura Martinez, director of the Hospital Corps, was the guest speaker for the ceremony. She discussed the corpsman's training and mission, and she addressed the history of the Navy's largest rating and the significance of corpsman training at Great Lakes dating back to 1917.
"Today we honor and celebrate that sacred trust to ensure our nation has a medically ready, fit, and fighting force and that those who've served our nation, along with their families, can always count on the Hospital Corps to help provide quality and compassionate patient and family-centered health care," Martinez said.
"It is no accident that we are experiencing the lowest battle mortality and non-battle injury rates in the history of armed conflict," said Martinez, a hospital corpsman for more than 30 years. "This is due in large part to our exceptional corpsmen and their training. The Hospital Corps is the largest rating in our Navy and the most decorated in the United States. Twenty naval ships alone have been named after hospital corpsmen."
Seaman Jose Espinoza, a student in the first Hospital Corps School class at Fort Sam Houston, expressed pride in his training as a hospital corpsman.
"I feel honored so say that when I put on my uniform, I not only represent the U.S. Navy. I also represent generations of Sailors who have gone before me to fight for my freedom."
Fellow Student Seaman Daniella Summers echoed Martinez' commitment to service, adding, "No matter the situation, a shipmate will never be left behind," she said.
"We have long heard the call 'Corpsman up', that we have answered in every major battle since the Corps' founding," Martinez said. "At the same time, the Hospital Corps has always provided care for family members and retirees at military treatment facilities around the globe. This dual commitment will never waver, no matter where our Sailors and Marines go or what they do.