Two years into her four-year term as the Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Nadja West, who also serves as commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command, made a visit to Joint Base Lewis-McChord Tuesday and Wednesday for a series of town hall meetings at French Theater, on Lewis Main, and at Letterman Theater, at Madigan Army Medical Center.
The town hall meetings ranged from brigade and battalion command teams, Madigan medical staff and service members and families under care at Madigan. In the town hall meetings, the topics included readiness, military medicine and objectives and goals required to remain ready, relevant and reliable; and, for medical beneficiaries to learn about the future of Army Medicine.
After each town hall, there were question and answer periods to allow attendees to ask questions and express concerns for West to better understand and address and eventually pass on to her headquarters.
“Getting feedback like this is useful and it helps me fulfill my dual role as Army Surgeon General and commanding general,” West said.
Questions from the town hall meetings ranged from stress reduction opportunities to a request for help for a military family member who has attempted suicide and questions on transgender surgeries and if the military will continue to provide those services despite recent changes tweeted by President Donald Trump.
West referred some questions to Col. Michael Place, Madigan Army Medical Center commander, but assured the Soldier who asked about transgender surgeries that no changes have been made and the Army will continue to provide services until changes are sent from the Department of Defense.
This is the first time West has been this far west. Her furthest venture previously being a residency at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver, she said. She’s hoping to visit all Army installations during her term in this position.
After the Wednesday afternoon session at Madigan, a line of attendees waited to chat with West and take photographs with her. First Lieutenant Holly Carlson, a postoperative registered nurse at Madigan, asked West’s advice: “I’m a purpose oriented person, so I wanted to know how (West) stayed focused in her career.” Carlson said West was inspirational and a great source of knowledge.
West is a graduate of the United States Military Academy with a bachelor of science degree in engineering. She earned a doctorate of medicine degree from George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.
She also completed the Army Medical Department Officer courses; and, graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College and the National War College.
Colonel John “Chris” Becking, 555th Engineer Brigade, commander, attended the first Tuesday town hall at French Theater. He called that gathering a “great event.”
“It is always helpful to hear from the Army's senior leaders to understand the larger context to our local challenges and successes,” Becking said. “Lieutenant General West was able to clearly and honestly provide that context to us.”