The bellowing of brass horns echoed off the walls as a group of Sailors and civilians, staff, family and friends gathered to witness the Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River assumption of command Sept. 12 at the River's Edge Catering and Conference Center.
With the words, "Alright, let's make you a Skipper," Rear Adm. Alton Stocks, commander, Navy Medicine National Capital Area and commander, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, Md., officiated the ceremony giving Capt. Michael Vernere command of the Clinic. The Clinic had been temporarily under the command of its Executive Officer Capt. Frederick McDonald since late June when the then CO was reassigned to Navy Medicine National Capital Area in Bethesda, Md.
"It's an honor and privilege to be selected to serve as the commanding officer and I'm truly humbled to be joining such a great team," Vernere said during the ceremony. "It's clear by all reports and data I've reviewed that we are a good command, and I believe we are well on our way from being a good command to being a great command."
Stocks said throughout the years he's known him, Vernere has always answered the call and is confident the Clinic here is in good hands.
"He's an impeccable naval officer, and the patients and staff at the Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River will be recipients of his stellar leadership in the executive medicine community," Stocks said.
Stocks also thanked McDonald for doing a "spectacular job" during his time as the acting CO and Capt. Sandra Hearn for taking the helm as the acting executive officer while maintaining her duties as the Clinic's head nurse.
Vernere said he intends to make the Clinic here a leader in innovation for military healthcare in achieving outstanding warrior and family readiness.
"We will consistently and relentlessly provide safe, high-quality patient- and family-centered medical care while maintaining 100 percent command and personal readiness 100 percent of the time," he said. "We will achieve these goals by ensuring every member of the command is functioning at the highest level of their professional capability and that all of our efforts are strategically aligned with the imperatives and priorities set by Navy medicine's leadership."
Vernere enlisted in the Navy in December 1975. After his four-year enlistment, he attended Rutgers University College of Nursing and graduated with high honors in May 1984. He was commissioned in the Navy Nurse Corps in November that same year, and after completing Officer Indoctrination School, he reported to Naval Hospital Oakland, Calif., as a staff nurse on medical-surgical and coronary care units. After that assignment, Vernere held many other medical assignments at various installations and aboard ships. His last assignment was serving as the Naval Hospital Jacksonville Executive Officer at Jacksonville, Fla.