FT. SAM HOUSTON, Texas (NNS) -- An historic ground-breaking ceremony was held at Ft. Sam Houston, July 10, marking the official beginning of the facilities construction phase of the tri-service Medical Education Training Campus (METC).
METC is the largest consolidation of service training in the Department of Defense history and will be the world's largest military medical education and training institution.
Air Force, Army and Navy Medicine representation included Air Force Maj. Gen. Melissa Rank, Air Force assistant surgeon general, Medical Force Development; Army Maj. Gen. Russell J. Czerw, commander, U.S. Army Medical Department Center Fort Sam Houston, and commanding general of Ft. Sam Houston; and Rear Adm. Richard Vinci, commander, Navy Medicine Support Command in Jacksonville, Fla. Vinci is responsible for Navy Medicine's manpower, education and training and is a member of the METC flag officers steering committee.
"The METC stakeholders come from all the services, and I could see that reflected in the people attending this ceremony," Vinci said. "The Navy Surgeon General, Adm. Robinson, probably said it best; we are all committed to an integrated inter-service education and training system that leverages the assets of all DOD health-care practitioners. It's the right thing to do."
Rank is the chair of the METC flag officers steering committee and was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.
"This historic event marks the beginning of another chapter in the quest for finding a common purpose in the training of military medical professionals in whose hands lay the lives of the nation's heroes, the men and women serving in the armed forces. There can be no greater reason then that, for us to get this right," said Rank.
The tri-service METC is scheduled to open in phases between 2010 and 2011 and will be the largest consolidation of service training in DOD history. The targeted completion date is prior to Sept. 15, 2011, the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission initiative deadline, explained Cmdr. Chris Garcia from the tri-service METC Transformation and Integration Office.
The 11 facilities under construction include three 1,200-student dormitories, a dining facility, five medical instruction facilities, a Navy and Air Force command building and a field training site located off Ft. Sam Houston at Camp Bullis just outside of San Antonio.
The extensive planning process that led to the ground breaking was a team effort between the Army, Navy and Air Force.
"We had to first come together and identify what the new METC would look like and how we would work together," Garcia said. "It's a process that is still very much underway. We had to identify education and training program curriculum commonalities so that joint curricula could be developed and facilities could be appropriately planned and designed. There are still many areas where each service will still teach their service-specific curricula, too."
The ground-breaking ceremony was held on the future site of the third and fourth medical instruction facilities. These two buildings will house the facilities and equipment necessary to provide advanced training for Navy corpsmen and Army and Air Force medics in a variety of advanced enlisted medical specialties.
Another new building, in conjunction with an adjacent existing building, will house the three services' programs for personnel just entering the enlisted medical field: the Navy's hospital corpsmen, the Air Force's aerospace medical apprentice and the Army's health care specialists. The contract for these two facilities is expected to be awarded in September.
"Contracts have already been awarded, and the contractor has started moving dirt on the first two medical instructional facilities, the first two dorms, the dining facility, and the Navy/Air Force command building," Garcia said.
"The fifth medical instructional facility is in the final phases of facility planning with the contract most likely being awarded in March 2009. Everything is on target for a successful move in and stand-up of the campus by the BRAC mandated deadline."
For more news from Navy Medicine Support Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmsc/.