I used to hear people coming from a joint assignment joke about "washing off the joint stink." That doesn't happen anymore. In part because over the last few years, our military's medical personnel not only fight joint, they are training much more in a joint environment. The benefits of this are numerous and I've witnessed firsthand the increased knowledge, adaptability and understanding that joint training creates. Joint isn't something that needs to be "washed off," but rather something we should all recognize as a source of our military strength unmatched in other militaries across the globe.
Although the services have always emphasized the importance of jointness, it's been in the last few years that we've taken big leaps forward. One area that personally comes to mind is the enlisted medical department personnel who are now benefiting in a big way from a powerful joint training environment not seen in years past. While they are receiving state-of-the-art medical education, equally important is that they are learning how to excel in a joint military environment by training alongside their service counterparts. The trust and understanding being built in the classroom extends to the battlefield. Because our medical personnel train together in the same environment, they know they can trust the person next to them to know the same things they know. They understand the power of "joint" because they are living it every day during their basic and advanced medical training programs.
Successful multiservice training and education programs such as the Uniformed Services University and the Joint Medical Planners Course right here on Naval Support Activity Bethesda have been in existence for several years. These programs bring together the best and the brightest instructors and professors from all services and civilian academia to deliver education and training that simply could not be duplicated if provided by each of service alone.
Just as these programs couldn't exist in an individual service, the quality of the people they produce wouldn't be the same. This is because the experiences students gain outside the classroom are also very important. By dining, training and socializing with their service counterparts, they learn to appreciate and respect what each of the services bring to the table.
Joint is all they know. Some might say this diminishes individual service culture but I've seen the exact opposite. I have observed that service culture, history, and traditions are more valued and understood in this joint training environment because this rich interservice diversity is more visible to all training there. Not only is the diversity more visible, the importance of why it exists becomes well understood. The resulting strength this service diversity gives our combined military, is profoundly appreciated, and will be carried forward as these graduates progress in their careers.
As I look towards the future, I like to think that the successes seen in our joint medical department training and education programs are a microcosm of the entire Department of Defense. The success of these programs will no doubt light a way to more collaboration not only in healthcare education and training but across many other areas. The future is bright for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that will graduate from these strong collaborative programs of instruction. They wear their jointness proudly.
Capt. L. Lee. Cornforth,
Navy Medicine Professional
"Our mission is to educate, train, and support Navy Medicine personnel to optimize the health and readiness of the Warfighter"