By Greg Gelpi
With the passing of a flag, command of the U.S. Army's 3rd Medical Command changed hands Sunday.
Maj. Gen. Jamie S. Barkin retired as commander of 3rd MEDCOM, and Brig. Gen. Jack Killen accepted leadership of the command and control medical group.
"Today we honor the distinguished service of one soldier and eagerly anticipate the service of another," Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, a three-star general and commander of U.S. Army Reserve Command, said during the change of command ceremony. "I am confident that Gen. Killen will only build on the success of the past four years under Gen. Barkin."
The ceremony, which included a military parade and canon fire, took place at Fort McPherson for the Fort Gillem-based medical group.
Helmly said that soldiers fight on the battlefield with confidence, knowing that they will receive the best medical care and treatment and that soldiers are saved these days from what used to be fatal injuries thanks to soldiers like those in the 3rd MEDCOM.
The 3rd MEDCOM provides combat healthcare, evacuation, medical regulating, medical logistics and veterinary and dental services. The group is deployed throughout the world and controls the medical command in Kuwait and southern Iraq and is responsible for medical treatment of American soldiers in all branches of the military as well as the care of coalition soldiers.
"A healthy force gets the mission done to everyone's satisfaction," Barkin said.
Medicine serves to heal more than physical wounds. The medical group has helped unite differing factions in Iraq, including the Sunnis and Shiites, Killen said.
"Today if you can't get Sunnis and Shiites to agree on anything, they will agree on good medical treatment," he said.
Barkin called members of the medical unit "battlefield angels."
"There's not a more selfless group of people on earth," Killen said of the military's medical group.
"We take care of our own, but, more importantly, we take care of our nation," Barkin said. "We in the Army medical department have a dual role of soldier and healer."
Barkin retires with a long list of accomplishments and accolades, including serving in three Army Reserve commands and numerous medical leadership positions. Town and County has recognized him as an "Exclusive Director of Outstanding Medical Specialists in the U.S."
He said will return to the University of Miami where he will continue to teach medicine.
Killen said laughing that his rise to commander of 3rd MEDCOM began with his climb to reclaim the rank he achieved in ROTC. As a brigadier general, he has far surpassed his rank of lieutenant colonel.