FORT HOOD, Texas - Nineteen soldiers from various units from around Fort Hood stood tall and proud on Sadowski Field as members of their units or family members pinned Expert Field Medical Badges onto their uniforms, Nov. 1.
The Soldiers standing in formation were still showing signs of physical exertion because they had just completed the final task of EFMB testing, a 12-mile road march.
Despite the sweat stains on their uniforms, the pride and happiness they felt could be seen on their faces as they received the badges for which they had worked so hard.
Those Soldiers represented only a small portion of those who underwent the testing.
“Fourteen days ago, 288 medical personnel from III Corps and subordinate units set out to attain the EFMB; before you stand the remaining Soldier medics who have risen to the challenge,” Master Sgt. Michele Johnson, 1st Medical Brigade security noncommissioned officer-in-charge, announced to the Soldiers and civilians gathered to witness the graduation ceremony.
With only a 7-percent graduation rate, those who now wear the EFMB are certainly a member of a distinguished few.
“Less than 1 percent of all medics have this badge,” said Spc. Kyle Morneau, a combat medic and lane evaluator with the 546th Area Support Medical Company. “Wearing the EFMB distinguishes you among your peers as the best of the best.”
Col. Bruce McVeigh, III Corps rear chief of staff and former commander of the 1st Med. Bde., agreed with Morneau’s assessment.
“These warriors standing before you today are now among the elite health professionals in our nation’s military,” McVeigh said in his speech at the graduation ceremony.
McVeigh elaborated on the importance of the EFMB testing and spoke to the quality of the graduates.
“During past conflicts and the wars we fight today, a wounded Soldier’s survival was directly linked to the speed and expertise of care given on and off the battlefield,” McVeigh said. “What makes the difference, then and now, is well-trained medics. And here before us all is a sampling of the very best our nation has to offer.”
In order to call the graduates of the EFMB testing the best medics in the military, the testing process has to be complete and rigorous.
The test is comprised of three combat testing lanes, a comprehensive written test, a grueling land navigation course, and a 12-mile forced road march, all designed to test each and every skill a combat medic can be expected to use in the line of duty, explained Capt. Daniel Davis, 582nd Medical Logistics Company, EFMB officer-in-charge.
“It’s difficult; it really is a challenge,” said Sgt. Juliane McClowsky, animal care specialist with the 43rd Veterinary Services Support Detachment. “It doesn’t just get handed out to everyone; you really have to work for it.”
The chance to earn the EFMB is available Armywide to medical personnel, including enlisted, warrant officers and officers assigned to or detailed to the Army Medical Department, Johnson said.
Earning the EFMB is not as simple as signing up and competing.
“To participate in the event, candidates have to have a current Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons qualification and a memo from their commander saying that they are able to train and have completed a 12-mile foot march,” Davis said.
In addition to the administrative requirements, candidates must train hard prior to attending the EFMB test if they hope to succeed, Davis explained.
“For a candidate to be successful, he can’t just decide the week before,” Davis explained. “It’s hours of preparation.”