Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A thank you to a great leader

Commentary by 1st Lt. James Anderson
386th Expeditionary Medical Group


2/21/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) --  In 2003, I crossed trained from security forces to become a medical technician. I had just completed technical school and clinical rotations and as soon as I returned to my reserve unit, I was informed to prepare for a one-year activation of our medical unit. The Iraq ground war was in full effect and a large number of Soldiers, Marines and Airmen were routinely being aeromedically evacuated from contingency operations in the area of responsibility to Germany and then on to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., for more definitive care in the multiservice area.

We quickly mobilized to accept patients and took over the base gym as our contingency areomedical staging facility. I was unsure of myself and my skill set because I was so "wet behind the ears". I was constantly running around with my head cut off trying to do a hundred million things and not accomplishing a single task. Capt. Vogan, who was one of our experienced nurses, stopped me and asked what I was doing. He could tell I was frustrated and tired. He immediately began to show me a better way of accomplishing and prioritizing tasks.

He was busier than most of us, but still had the time to graciously mentor me due to my inexperience. Vogan reinforced things I had already learned in technical school and taught me new things. We were constantly inundated with injured and sick patients, but not once did he complain. He would always find me during our chaotic day and walked me through the treatment of burn, psychological and orthopedic patients. My confidence was strengthened tremendously. Then, I was able to step up and assume a bigger role in our aeromedical evacuation mission and direct patient care. I even occasionally assumed the role of lead medical technician on incoming and outgoing aeromedical evacuation missions.

Throughout our reserve activation, Vogan would often take time just to talk. These talks would expand my Air Force and medical knowledge base. We were undermanned and tired a majority of the time, but he continued to stay positive and concentrate on the patients who deserved the best care we could give them. My attitude was dramatically changed. The troops coming back were exhausted, tired and in pain. The patients usually were evacuated quickly through the system and regularly had minimal personal gear and clothing with them.

My personal troubles seemed so trivial. Vogan taught me how to look at the big picture and greater good. I have developed a certain philosophy and motto through his tutelage. My sense of accomplishment is not based what I have achieved through promotions and personal recognition, but instead it is based on the servant leadership I learned from Vogan. I ask myself , how I can help those I lead through my actions and genuine concern for their welfare?

Vogan went on to become a JROTC instructor in West Virginia before his retirement. His leadership instilled a higher calling and devotion to duty in me. This allowed me to better myself and to pass along the lessons that I have learned. I'm now a commissioned officer and nurse due to his airmanship. Thanks Maj. Vogan....

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