New LRMC CSM looks to improve his foxhole

Command Sgt. Major Billy Ray King
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

My philosophy is you have to improve your foxhole every place you go. I have been at the helm of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center only 30 days.

Typically, I like to spend the first 90 days evaluating the systems in place and trying to find ways to make them better.

Several things I really want to focus on here are the retention of Soldiers, effective training and preparation for those slated to deploy, safety and morale boosters.

Retention of Soldiers really is high on my radar. The Army is not meeting its goal when it comes to retaining our forces. I want to identify Soldiers who are a year away from their separation date and have group breakfasts with them. I’m not going to twist any arms in an attempt to get them to stay Army, but I do want to make sure they know everything the Army has to offer them. I think if leaders take an interest in and make an effort to reach young Soldiers, retaining them would be easier to achieve.

I came to LRMC from the 67th Combat Support Hospital in Würzburg, Germany. Having just returned in January from 13 months of service in Iraq, I’ve seen some things that need improving before Soldiers deploy. One thing I will push for is to install night training for combat medics. We need to make sure our medics can operate effectively at night, because many of our downrange medics routinely found themselves in that situation.

Marksmanship training also is very important for those slated to deploy. I would love to somehow set up a live fire course to better help those Soldiers prepare for frontline action.

Safety is of the utmost importance to me. During my 24-year military career I have seen too many Soldiers suffer needlessly. Over Memorial Day weekend, I, along with my first sergeants, were posted at the exit gates passing out safety flyers as well as checking to make sure all personnel wore their seatbelts. We also randomly inspected vehicles to ensure first aid kits and warning triangles were present. I also am a big believer in Under the Oak Tree counseling – an initiative brought to us by Gen. B.B. Bell, U.S. Army Europe commander. It’s a program whereby leaders take an interest in what their Soldiers are doing in their free time. Ask your Soldiers what they have planned on a holiday weekend and counsel them on how to remain safe.

Morale boosters are important to an organization, and they don’t have to be big, costly projects. Just something that makes life a bit easier or more convenient can do the trick. I am working to get our newly-refurbished gym to stay open 24 hours, turn a portion of the shoppette into a makeshift clothing sales where Soldiers can purchase rank, caps and other small items. I also am working on getting an alteration shop in the hospital where personnel can have rank and unit patches sewn on without having to travel to other posts.

Having been in Iraq and seen the way patients are handled on that end and then to end up here and see how they are handled … I don’t consider it a job – I think of it as an honor.