BETHESDA, Md. -- On the campus of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Army Lt. Col. Richard A. Villarreal took command of Troop Command-North June 27 from Lt. Col. Eric Bailey, who has served as the unit's commander since 2011.
Northern Regional Medical Command's Commanding General, Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, recognized the accomplishments by Bailey during his two years of command. In his remarks, Wong said that Bailey was hand-picked to be the first leader of this very important command.
"Today, command of Troop Command North changes hands. We celebrate the achievements of the more than 15-hundred assigned and attached personnel, guided by Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bailey," said Wong, who took command of NRMC June 20. "We also look to the future, as the next chapter of the history of this organization begins with the command of Lieutenant Colonel Richard Villarreal."
The Troop Command was created specifically to help Army Medicine Soldiers operate in a new joint environment that began with the implementation of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law to close Walter Reed Army Medical Center and to stand-up Joint Task Force Capitol Region and the only two Department of Defense Medical Facilities, Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.
Bailey ensured that all Soldiers, particularly those in leadership positions, maintained their readiness and leadership competencies. The development of Soldiers within Troop Command North was always a priority. Army Medical Soldiers in the National Capitol Region were always ready when the call came to support combat operations.
"This job calls for skills in planning, coordination and diplomacy. And I might add a lot of patience, flexibility and creativity," Wong added. "Eric, you have fulfilled those requirements, and then some."
Villarreal may be the new commander, but leadership is nothing new for the Hereford, Texas native, who began his career as an enlisted Soldier and climbed to the rank of staff sergeant. He attended Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Ala. Finally, Villarreal graduated the Interservice Physician Assistant Program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Medical Specialist Corps.
He thanked retired Command Sgt. Major Hosbrough, Villarreal's first platoon sergeant when he served with Charlie Company, 115th Medical Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas, for attending. "He taught me that good Soldiers are made and that anyone can grow up in the Army; be a good Soldier and achieve more than you can ever imagine," said Villarreal who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wong knows that he has the right leader to continue what Bailey has established and emphasized the importance of ensuring Soldier readiness during the transition from Joint Task Force Capitol Region to the Defense Health Agency.
"As we prepare to create the Defense Health Agency, it will be more important than ever to ensure Army personnel have the administrative support, training, readiness and command and control they need to continue providing world-class-healthcare to our beneficiaries," he said. "You have my full trust and confidence."
Terry J. Goodman, NRMC Strategic Communications