When Sgt. Michael Case heard in February that Fort Riley was planning to conduct Expert Field Medical Badge testing for the first time in seven years, he began collecting materials and cramming for the event he was sure would test every bit of his soldier and medical knowledge.
The 1st Infantry Division medic from 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team had just returned in January from a year in Afghanistan but the recent redeployment did not sway him from his plans to earn the medical field’s most coveted badge.
“As a noncommissioned officer, I didn’t want to come away from the testing with anything less than success,” Case said.
The young soldier’s commitment to success served him well during two weeks of intense EFMB testing and training earlier this month - he was one of just two dozen Big Red One and Fort Riley soldiers to earn the badge.
“These soldiers represent a proud history of Army medicine…a legacy of excellence,” Maj. Gen. Richard Thomas, commanding general of the Western Regional Medical Command, said during the EFMB graduation ceremony May 10. “The fundamental skill sets (they) demonstrated expertise in during this past week are what save lives.”
The EFMB testing process began April 30 when 185 soldiers began a weeklong standardization period during which time the candidates walked through different skill lanes and received training on the tasks associated with the lane. When testing officially began May 5, 159 candidates remained and opened the week with a 60 question written test. Following the written test, the soldiers’ days were filled with tasks, tests and lanes that gauged their skills in everything from tactical combat casualty care and medical evacuation to communication, land navigation and warrior skills. The week concluded with a 12-mile road march in full gear. Seven soldiers did not complete the road march in the required time which meant 24 soldiers, less than eight percent of the original field of candidates, were left to receive their badges.
“The march was the toughest part,” Case said. “We were already tired; we had already been through so much that those 12 miles seemed very, very long.”
EFMB holder Sgt. 1st Class David Meditz, the noncommissioned officer in charge of this year’s testing, said the length and intensity of the badge testing requires soldiers to dig deep to make it to the end.
“The EFMB is something that you have to want as an individual, have to want with your heart,” Meditz said. “At some point during the week you are going to be pushed to your last step and you are going to have to decide if you are going to keep moving forward or if you are going to quit. Those who have the heart will keep moving forward to graduation.”
Case’s wife Tia, who is expecting the couple’s second child any day, said she never had any doubt her husband would earn his EFMB.
“He’s pretty awesome,” she said.
Before presenting the medical soldiers their new badges, Thomas urged each one standing before him to ensure that the standard of excellence set during the testing is passed on to the next generation of professionals.
Case said he happily accepts the major general’s charge.
“Now that I have gotten (the EFMB) I want to make sure that my soldiers have the training they need to come out here and be successful,” he said. “I had some really great NCOs out here who helped me through this and I want to make sure I continue that tradition.”