As a reservist I'm not usually considered part of the flight. I show up a couple time a year, see patients or work on projects. Usually eat meals alone. Go back home or the lodging at night. Sometimes I do something social with the flight but I don't really know people that well. This time I noticed that something was different. From the first day the Nutritional Medicine Flight at Malcolm Grow Medical Center made me feel welcome, part of the team, a member of the family. When I was here at work, I didn't feel like a temporary employee, I felt like I was a full time member of the flight.
I had the pleasure of working with some very dedicated, enthusiastic diet techs who helped me leave a lasting contribution to the capital region. In less than eight weeks togther we got the clinic fully functioning (certifying a new tech to provide group classes and basic individual nutrition education in less than one month; considered record time in this career field), revised five group classes (two of them are now more effective six week programs), saw over 400 patients. In addition, I was part of the strategic planning team for our career field, a member of the medical nutrition therapy working group (so I've revamped 2 diet tech training modules and 4 diet tech clinical guidelines), created a dozen documentation templates utilizing the nutrition care process protocol, and help the population health team get their diabetes initiative off the ground.
Hey! This isn't our flight meeting!
I've never been given a goodbye party before. When I transfered my unit of assignment from Nellis to Travis, no one realized I was gone except the flight commander since he signed my paperwork. Despite five years at Nellis there was nothing to mark my leaving. When I put on Major (which is a big deal in the military) there was no pinning ceremony, no congratulations from a commander. Just a "go ahead and sew it on" and then when I showed up at Travis for the first time with the oak leaf it was "oh, you're a Major now. Nice." After three years at Travis the Reserve office decided they shouldn't have to pay for me to travel so far when there was a perfectly good military facility in my home town. So I was transfered back to Nellis. My last day at Travis was a 'tag-on' to someone else's last day party.....until the Squadron Commander pulled me aside privately and awarded me her Commander's Coin (Col McCann - thank you!).
Here at Andrews my job was only for 53 days (36 if you only count duty days). To hear the flight members talking it was like I'd been here with them for over a year. I was getting teary giving my thanks. But when one after the other got up to say something, I was flabbergasted. And to give me salutes? WOW! I really felt part of the 779th MDSS/SGSN Team all the way.
Thank you all for the opportunity to serve with you. It's been a pleasure and an honor. The people you feed and care for are in good hands. I'll always consider myself an honorary member of Team Andrews, the Face of Air Force Medicine.