464th Medical Company Soldiers home at last

by Chuck RobertsLandstuhl Regional Medical Center

Speeches were interrupted by the sounds of crying babies and restless kids, but no one cared – they were entitled.

Their moms and dads, 51 Soldiers from the 464th Medical Company (Dental Services) at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, had just marched into the gym where they stood in formation, only moments away from officially ending a 15-month deployment to Iraq.

During the ceremony, Spc. Jason Cummings was summoned in front of the formation where he was reunited with his wife, Spc. Elizabeth Cummings, also assigned to the 464th. As the youngest couple in the company, the two Soldiers were given the honor of the first welcome home hug and kiss, an act quickly followed in the gym by the home crowd.

Specialist Elizabeth Cummings planned on getting out of the Army in July 2008, but that was postponed because of Stop-Loss. So, when Specialist Jason Cummings deployed in May 2008, she was left holding down the fort with 7-week-old daughter Julia, 6-year-old stepson Jordan and an Army career requiring TDYs and trips to the field. 

“It was a big adjustment becoming a single parent for the first time,” Specialist Elizabeth Cummings said while waiting for the 464th to arrive from nearby Ramstein where they had landed a few hours prior. “I had to take on both roles as mother and father. I had to make decisions on my own the best I could.”

But like her fellow Soldiers and other spouses of deployed servicemembers, Specialist Elizabeth Cummings said she made the adjustment and ended up as a more independent person and a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” as mom, nurse and doctor. Specialist Elizabeth Cummings said she gives her co-workers, neighbors and day care provider a lot of credit for helping her along the way.

Her co-workers were 14 Soldiers from the 464th who kept the company going at LRMC during the past 15 months. Like Specialist Elizabeth Cummings, Capt. Cathy Laws said they met the challenge head-on.

“It could have been disastrous but they did an exceptional job,” Captain Laws said.
There was one adjustment, however, that came with ease. Being with family again is a welcomed change from deployment life that Specialist Jason Cummings said he quickly warmed up to.

“It’s amazing, it really is,” he said just moments after the family reunited. “It seems surreal right now. It didn’t seem like this day would ever come.”

The 464th is a rapidly deployable dental company. In addition to dentists and dental technicians, the company is comprised of support personnel in order to sustain and defend itself in any environment.

LRMC, which falls under the command of Europe Regional Medical Command, is the largest American hospital outside of the United States and is verified by the American College of Surgeons as a Level II Trauma Center, making it the only U.S. medical facility overseas to hold that distinction and only one of three in the Department of Defense.

LRMC provides primary care, tertiary care, hospitalization and treatment for more than 245,000 U.S. military personnel and their families within the European Command.

LRMC is also the evacuation and treatment center for all injured U.S. servicemembers, contractors and members of 44 coalition forces
serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, treating more than 56,000 since January 2004.