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Providing the most qualified medical professionals for the U.S. Army is the mission of the Army Medical Recruiting Brigade at Fort Knox.
Under the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, the Army Medical Recruiting Brigade seeks to sign up a wide range of medical personnel, from orthopedic surgeons to dietitians.
“It’s a very competitive market,” said Col. Karrie Fristoe, Medical Recruiting Brigade commander.
A total of 75 Medical Recruiting Brigade personnel, both military and civilian, are stationed at Fort Knox. Of those, 52 staff members are part of the brigade headquarters, which includes the Chaplain Recruiting Branch, and 23 are with the 3rd Medical Recruiting Battalion, which also is headquartered at Fort Knox.
The brigade is tasked with recruiting chaplains and more than 100 different types of medical professionals each fiscal year.
Recruiters travel to universities and residency schools to meet that goal for the medical staff. These recruiting stations cover more than 18,750 zip codes throughout the United States as well as stations in Puerto Rico and Germany.
One of the ways they attract medical professionals is by offering scholarships. Without such financial help, college students in the medical field can graduate $200,000 in debt, Fristoe said.
“That’s probably the biggest incentive,” she said.
Other times, practicing physicians want to join to give back to their country.
One case in point, Fristoe said, was a 64-year-old orthopedic surgeon who joined up.
“He just wanted to give,” she said.
Because his son had been wounded in Iraq, the man felt he could use his skills to help other soldiers. The physician is getting ready for his second deployment to serve with a forward surgical team.
The most challenging area of concentration, Fristoe said, is recruiting professionals with medical specialties.
Another tool in the recruiting arsenal is the Army Medicine Experience tour in San Antonio for health care leadership. The 2012 tour included a visit to Fort Sam Houston, which is considered the home of Army medicine.
Additionally, the tour afforded health care leaders the chance to learn about medical opportunities and careers in the Army, speak with Army medical leaders and network with other health care leaders. Participants in the tour visited the Center for the Intrepid, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center, Camp Bullis Training Area and the Army Medical Department Museum.
Deans of medical schools and other medical leaders are invited to the Army Medicine Experience in order to become familiar with the Army medical opportunities. They can then relate that information to students or medical professionals and “help tell the Army story” to those who might be interested, Fristoe said.
Activated Oct. 2, 2007, the Medical Recruiting Brigade, also known as Allgoods’ Highlanders, assumed command of five Medical Recruiting Battalions.
The brigade name is a tribute to Col. Brian D. Allgood, an orthopedic surgeon who was killed in a helicopter crash Jan. 20, 2007. Allgood was the highest-ranking medical officer to die in the war.
On Oct. 1 2009, the brigade assumed command of the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the Chaplain Recruiting Branch at Fort Knox. The Special Operations Recruiting Battalion includes the warrant officer recruiting mission.
Though USAREC assumed operational control of the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion on Oct. 1, 2012, the Medical Recruiting Brigade continues to provide administrative and logistical support.
“We’re the only medical recruiting brigade in the Army,” Fristoe said.
Staff members spend a lot of time on the road, striving to fulfill their recruiting mission. But travel is only part of the job.
Office work, including malpractice checks and checking credentials is part and parcel of the job.
“Paperwork is very detailed,” she said.
That attention to detail is part of the professionalism that drives Medical Recruiting Brigade in meeting a meaningful mission.
“Due to the hard work of our recruiters and civilian staffers, we are providing the quality professionals needed to treat and minister to our soldiers, wounded war¬riors, family members and retirees,” Fristoe said. “It’s an honor to serve in this capacity, and the soldiers we support deserve nothing less than the very best.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.