FORT POLK, La. –
Sgt. Garrett Paulson, combat medical specialist and noncommissioned officer in charge of the patient center medical home at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana will be competing at the U.S. Army Best Squad competition in September.
Paulson, was one of two BJACH Soldiers selected as best junior NCO during Regional Health Command Central’s best leader competition in April at Fort Bliss, Texas. Individual winners in each category; officer, senior NCO, junior NCO and Soldier were consolidated for the RHC-C team. Due to a permanent change of station only Paulson was able to join the regional team.
Command Sgt. Maj. Shavonda Devereaux said selecting Paulson to join the BJACH team was an easy choice.
“This was a no brainer. Sgt. Paulson had all the attributes and winning a mindset,” she said. “The first step in being successful is your attitude and positive mental outlook. He has those two down. He understands the bigger picture.”
The RHC-C Team won the U.S. Army Medical Command competition at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Devereaux said his back-to-back victories is a testament to his tenacity and will to win.
“Sgt. Paulson has worked hard since he’s been here and is in the best shape of his life,” she said. “He continues to set personal goals to better himself which contribute to his success.”
Paulson said he reenlisted for MEDCOM and needs of the Army and came to BJACH in January.
“When I arrived they were setting up the BJACH team to compete at region,” he said. “The winner and runner up for the BJACH NCO of the year board were going to be on the team, but when a spot opened up. I sat down with the sergeant major and asked her to send me. I told her, if she sent me, I’d bring home the win.”
Paulson said competitions weren’t prioritized at his last unit.
“I didn’t even realize these competitions were a thing before I came here,” he said. “I was a line medic in an infantry unit, so jump master and Ranger school were emphasized. I went to jump master school when I was stationed at Fort Bragg.”
Paulson said he didn’t know where BJACH was when he first received his orders, but once he found out, he knew it would be fine.
“My friends at my last unit reacted negatively when I told them I was coming to Fort Polk,” he said. “I didn’t see it that way. I knew it would work out fine, my sponsor at BJACH told me there were a lot of opportunities here for schools, training and competitions.”
Paulson said when he arrived, he saw career progression and military schools were emphasized by everyone including the installation senior mission commander and the hospital commander.
Devereaux said training is the most important thing the organization can do to prepare Soldiers to perform any given mission.
“Schools provide opportunities and I am invested in providing Soldiers those opportunities as long as they are invested in training for it. Every school we send a Soldier to, we place emphasis on preparation to ensure a Soldier is successful. Almost 90% of our Soldiers who attend a school are successful due to the training we provide. This says that we care about our Soldier’s career and their future,” Devereaux said.
“I personally want to ensure that every Soldier who chooses to remain in the Army is competitive for promotion and takes advantage of everything the Army has to offer. Someone invested in me a long time ago and it is my objective to ensure I do the same with my Soldiers. The installation command team has ensured BJACH is included in mobile training opportunities. JRTC and Fort Polk truly embody putting people first!” she said.
Paulson said he told Devereaux he would win at the regional competition.
“My confidence came from my experience while assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division,” he said. “What I had done while in my previous unit and what I heard we’d be doing in the competition gave me confidence that I would succeed. I have a broad understanding of military operations and tactics which I knew would prove useful at the regional and MEDCOM competitions.”
Paulson said the RHC-C Best Leader team was comprised of Soldiers from military treatment facilities throughout the region. Training as a team solidified their unit cohesiveness and gave them an edge over the competition in June.
Sgt. Maj. Dagoberto Chapa, senior enlisted advisor at Munson Army Health Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas was part of the cadre tasked to provide training for the RHC-C team.
“My job was to train them in combatives,” he said. “I am Army Combatives Level 3 with black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. I was a national level multi- medalist competitor and I am also a professional referee in both sports; so I know what works and what doesn’t in a competitive environment.”
Chapa said training for competitions separates the winning teams from the others.
“It is imperative that Soldiers prepare for all situations,” he said. “I am proud of the accomplishment of the central team and I am not surprised with the winning result.”
Chapa said Paulson and the efforts of every member of the team contributed to the team’s success.
“Sgt. Paulson is a highly motivated and confident leader that impressed me with his performances at region and MEDCOM,” Chapa said. “He is a future leader.”
Capt. Christopher Julian, company commander, U.S. Army Medical Detachment at Fort Polk was on the BJACH Team with Paulson and has confidence in his abilities to excel at the Army Best Squad competition.
“I expect Sgt. Paulson to continue to push his limits and train his fellow teammates and Soldiers as he prepares for the Army Competition. There is no doubt that Sgt. Paulson will succeed and represent BJACH well,” he said. “I think Sgt. Paulson is an outstanding NCO and Soldier. BJACH is extremely fortunate to have him as part of the Spartan team.”
Paulson said he is looking forward to the Army Competition but his goals don’t end there.
“After the Army competition, I will be chasing my expert field medical badge in October, followed by the region Best Medic Competition in November. I am also interested in going to Ranger and Sapper Schools,” he said. “In the future, I would like to pay it forward to this unit by putting together a training plan for the next BJACH team. I know what it takes to win and I’d like to see everyone from our hospital win in their prospective categories.”
Paulson said coming to Fort Polk was a great decision and he is actively trying to recruit other medics to come to BJACH.
“At BJACH we have a great track record for sending Soldiers to school,” he said. “I’ve been telling my friends, they should come here and take advantage of all the opportunities we have here at Fort Polk.”
Devereaux said the Army is what you make of it.
“Your attitude, goals, and drive determine your outcome no matter how big or small a camp, post, or station is. Fort Polk is unique because this post provides every training opportunity one can imagine. You want an opportunity, come to BJACH and you will leave a winner,” she said. “I am the talent manager for this organization. I have mentored Sgt. Paulson to inspire and motivate other Soldiers to reach deep within and find greatness; to challenge themselves and to do the things they never thought they could do," she said.
Paulson still hasn’t decided his ultimate goals for his Army career, but with two parents who are veterans and a sister in the Air Force, it was a natural choice to join.
“I plan to make a career of the Army, but I’m not sure what that looks like yet,” he said. “I’m interested in aviation, but I’m also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. During my time in the gym training for these competitions, I’ve developed an interest in becoming a strength coach or pursuing a career in physical or occupational therapy,” he added.
Paulson said he is willing to go wherever the opportunities take him.
“If a Soldier wants to enhance their career, Fort Polk is the place to be, if someone is considering changing their military occupational specialty they should consider 68W combat medic,” he said.
“To paraphrase the surgeon general’s speech after the MEDCOM competition, combat medics are the most utilized people in the Army. As a medic I get to do a lot, see a lot and have a lot of opportunities for personal and professional growth.”