Fort Belvoir Established as NMRTC

US Navy | 2022-03-24

By Tia Nichole McMillen

FORT BELVOIR, Va.: Capt. Melissa Austin assumed command of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Fort Belvoir during an assumption of command ceremony, March 18, on board Fort Belvoir Army Base.

Austin is the first commanding officer of NMRTC Fort Belvoir, a command that was previously a Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit under NMRTC Bethesda. Austin most recently served as the executive officer, NMRTC Portsmouth; deputy director, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth; and as the commanding officer for Expeditionary Medical Facility Juliet.

“Establishment of NMRTC Fort Belvoir unequivocally sends the message that Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and its people are vitally important to Navy Medicine as a force development and force generation platform,” said Austin. “I am excited to partner with Col. Kathy Spangler and hospital leadership to deliver the best in military medical care from Fairfax to Dumfries, to here in Northern Virginia. I know our team will remain dedicated to providing outstanding patient experiences through competent and compassionate care.”

Austin, the daughter of a career Army officer, graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering and earned a commission through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) in 1996. She spent seven years in the surface warfare community before earning her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and completing her residency training in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at the University of Washington Medical Center.

In October 2019, the U.S. Navy established sixty-three NMRTCs and NMRTUs to focus on readiness of the medical professionals serving at military treatment facilities around the world. The new commands were established as part of the transfer of administration, direction, and control of naval hospitals and clinics to the Defense Health Agency (DHA).

“NMRTCs are the ‘engine room’ of Navy Medicine. They ensure we are able to provide combat-ready medical providers,” said Surgeon General of the Navy Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham and guest speaker for the ceremony. “Our primary mission is the operational readiness of today’s naval force. We ensure our warfighters are ready to fight and are responsible for maintaining and increasing the survivability and lethality of the Navy and Marine Corps’ most valuable weapon system—people,” he said.

Navy Medicine’s priorities are to provide well-trained people, working as cohesive teams on optimized platforms, demonstrating high value performance, that projects medical power in support of naval superiority.

The NMRTC/Us ensure the Navy retains command and control of its uniformed medical force. The new NMRTC/U commands report to NMFL, which was formerly Navy Medicine East, and Naval Medical Forces Pacific, or NMFP, formerly Navy Medicine West. These renamed echelon 3 commands will continue to report to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, or BUMED.

Rear Adm. Darin Via, commander, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic, stated, “The significance of today’s NMRTC establishment can be summarized as a necessary change to the unique mission that Fort Belvoir Community Hospital has been tasked with, and to ensure that our Sailors are consistently put first,” he said. “This change also aligns with the transition in the military health system and Navy Medicine’s vital mission in projecting medical power for naval superiority. The very core reason for this change is about warfighter readiness, and our ability to force generate ready medical and medically ready forces.”

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