MEDDAC Public Affairs Specialist
The U.S. Army Medical Department Activity changed command during a ceremony Thursday at Sexton Field. Col. Bertram C. Providence relinquished command to Col. Mark W. Thompson, with staff, Family, friends and distinguished visitors there to share in the event.
Commander of troops for the ceremony was Lt. Col. Kyle A. Patterson, deputy commander for administration, USA MEDDAC. Reviewing officer was Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Bowland, commanding general, Northern Regional Medical Command. Command sergeant major for the event was MEDDAC Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy J. Sprunger.
The 484th Army Band of Milwaukee, Wis., added festivity to the event. After a sequence of events that included an invocation, sound off, honors, inspection of troops, honors to the nation and the change of command itself, Hawley-Bowland, Providence and Thompson addressed the crowd.
The general began by thanking the men and women of the MEDDAC for their dedication to duty and quality compassionate care to Fort Drum community beneficiaries. She then recognized MEDDAC’s accomplishments under Providence’s leadership and welcomed Thompson.
“Today we bid farewell to an outstanding officer and welcome another,” she said. “It is a day to acknowledge the accomplishment of a fine leader and a fine organization in the execution of a mission as important as any in the Army.
“Under Col. Bert Providence’s outstanding leadership, Guthrie (Ambulatory) Health Clinic has met and surpassed the highest quality standards.
“Bert, your proven skills as a strategic leader and the incredible efforts of your staff were evident in the implementation of key initiatives for this organization,” she said.
After thanking Providence and wishing him well in his next assignment, Hawley-Bowland tur-ned her focus to Thompson.
“Supporting the medical needs of the Soldiers and Families of the 10th Mountain Division is a formidable task,” she said. “I’m so pleased to have an officer as accomplished as Col. Mark Thompson here to take command.
“Your deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom will enable you to relate to the experiences of the patients you serve and their Families. I know you will continue to build upon the work that Bert has left here and make it your own.”
Providence spoke next.
“Today marks the end of my command. This was without a doubt one of the most rewarding and most humbling experiences of my 20-year career as a Soldier and surgeon, and it gives me a great sense of pride,” he said.
“Two years ago on this same field, I stated several goals and objectives for the organization. First, we must put the needs of the patient first. Second, we must constantly improve. Third, we must incorporate the Army Values and the Warrior Ethos in all we do. Finally, we must act as one team — we must continue to strengthen our partnership with the local medical community to improve health care for all.”
Providence then recounted the staff’s accomplishments over the past two years: converting the appointment-based Acute Care Clinic to a walk-in Urgent Care Clinic; implementing the RESPECT-Mil program to identify behavioral health issues in Soldiers early and decrease the stigma of receiving help; establishing a full-service pharmacy at the Conner Troop Medical Clinic; obtaining recertification during the recent Joint Commission survey; deploying and redeploying units in support of overseas contingency operations; transforming the Wounded Warrior Support Center to a Medical Management Center; increasing beneficiary enrollments; and improving the MEDDAC’s productivity.
“With these accomplishments and so many others, you were able to continue the long history of providing excellent and high-quality health care to the Soldiers and Family Members of the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum,” he said.
“This could not happen without the Soldiers, civilians, volunteers and contract staff at the MEDDAC. I thank you for all you do to make this MEDDAC one of the best health care facilities in the Department of Defense and for ‘Caring Enough to Make a Difference.’ I assure you that I will always hold you up as examples of all that is best in the Army.”
Thompson then stepped to the podium, thanking his wife and daughters, parents and other Family Members for their support. He also thanked Hawley-Bowland, Providence and the MEDDAC team.
“Maj. Gen. Hawley-Bowland, it has been great serving with you in a couple of stops along the way,” he said. “You promoted me to colonel on the lanai at Tripler and now handed the guidon to me at Fort Drum. Your mentorship and leadership has meant a great deal to me. Thank you.
“Col. Bert Providence, thank you for a fantastic hand-off and thank you for you and your Family’s wonderful leadership here at Guthrie. It is obvious this is a high-quality organization that has had great leadership. It is a privilege for me to follow you here.
“To the members of MEDDAC, Fort Drum, thank you for the extremely warm welcome you have given my Family and me since our arrival. It is a great honor being your commander, and I look forward to our service together.”
“To the 10th Mountain Division and the Fort Drum community, we are simply here to serve you. Our mission is to ensure your medical readiness and the health and well-being of your Families. We look forward to continuing to partner with you to ensure that the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, their Families, and our retirees comprise the healthiest community in our Army today and well into the future.
“To our community health care partners who play such a vital role in insuring the health and well-being of our Army family at Fort Drum, I look forward to working with you. Our actions together help raise the standard of care for everyone in the North Country, Soldier and civilian alike. It will be very exciting to play a part in moving that ball forward with you,” he said.
Thompson received his commission from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a Distinguished Cadet and the cadet with the second-highest class standing. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.
He completed a pediatric internship and residency training at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, and neonatology fellowship training at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa. In addition, he completed a medical research fellowship at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and earned a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.
Thompson most recently served as deputy commander for clinical services, Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Wash.
He deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as chief, Pediatrics Services, 14th Combat Support Hospital, in 2006 and as chief, Clinical Operations, Task Force 62nd Medical Brigade, in 2010-11. His most recently deployed as commander, 31st Combat Support Hospital, Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, from November to January. He also completed a four-year term as pediatric consultant to The Surgeon General.
Thompson is the author of more than 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, 12 published abstracts, and more than 60 research and invited presentations.
He received several research and teaching awards, to include the Sowgas Award, James Bass Resident Teaching Award and Dr. Michael K. Yancey Award for Excellence in Teaching.
His military awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and Meritorious Unit Commendation. He is the recipient of The Surgeon General’s “A” designator for career academic accomplishments and the Order of Military Medical Merit.