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Hospital Happenings

News | June 6, 2023

Wilma takes command of BJACH

By Jean Graves, Medical Readiness Command, West

Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital has a new leader following a change of command ceremony at 10 a.m., June 5 on Warrior Field at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana.

The outgoing commander, Col. Aristotle Vaseliades, relinquished command to Col. Alisa Wilma, in front of military and local civic leaders, network hospital partners, family and friends.

While the clouds kept the Louisiana temperatures in check, Vaseliades passed the unit colors to Brig. Gen. E. Darrin Cox, commanding general, Medical Readiness Command, West and host of the ceremony, indicating his relinquishment of hospital command. Cox then passed the colors to Wilma, charging her with the responsibilities and authority to lead BJACH.

Cox said the U.S. Army Medical Command and the Military Health System have undergone tremendous change during Vaseliades tenure as the BJACH commander.

“Col. Vaseliades wore many hats during his time at Fort Polk,” he said. “In addition to being the hospital commander, he served as the JRTC and Fort Polk Surgeon, the Director of the Central Louisiana Small Market and chaired the installation senior medical council.”

Cox lauded Vaseliades for his accomplishments.

“During Col. Vaseliades’ command BJACH underwent a highly successful Joint Commission Survey with zero major findings, successfully transitioned the civilian work force from the Department of the Army to the Defense Health Agency and was recognized as the Department of Defense’s first Leap Frog Hospital of the Year,” he said. “And let’s not forget the bar that was set here when BJACH hosted the Command Sgt. Maj. Jack Clark Army Best Medic Competition. The Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Scott Dingle, proclaimed it to the be the best competition to date, setting the example for future units to match.”

Cox welcomed Wilma and her spouse, Paul Butler to the MRC, W team family.

“I know you possess the knowledge, leadership, and strategic vision necessary to ensure this command continues to maintain its status as a premier medical platform for the world’s best expeditionary and globally integrated fighting force,” he said. This is a critical time in the history of our world. We are adapting who we are, how we fight, and what we fight with in preparation for future operational challenges. Your leadership will be vital to the ongoing successful modernization of the Army and Army Medicine.”

Cox said he was confident Wilma will excel at Fort Polk, with network partners, community stakeholders, and the entire MHS.

Vaseliades thanked his family, his neighbors, JRTC and Fort Polk Leadership, hospital and network providers, and Northwestern State University and Natchitoches Parish for their community partnership.

“I especially want to thank the kids of Eagle View Drive,” he said. “During COVID-19 my kids were isolated or quarantined for two years in Korea and at Fort Bragg. Getting here with a good team of kids on our street helped get them out of their rooms and back to being kids again.”

Vaseliades said BJACH is and will continue to be excel and provide excellent care to the community.

“In the past 731 days we’ve pivoted to readiness while still providing exceptional healthcare to the 20,000 plus Soldiers, Families and retirees who call Fort Polk home. This is what sets us apart from our civilian colleagues,” he said. “We were able to do both at the same time. Our Soldiers are ready and prepared to execute their war time mission and our organization has not only maintained but exceeded safety and quality care goals and expectations.”

Vaseliades wished Wilma good luck and assured her the team at BJACH would take care of her.

Wilma is the first veterinarian to command a military treatment facility.

“When I first learned I’d be commanding BJACH, my husband said, ‘congrats, you’re Ted Lasso’,” she said. “A recent Gallop poll revealed that Americans would rather work for a boss like Ted Lasso than for an expert in their field. So, while I know he was joking, I wanted to thank my husband Paul for that compliment.”

Wilma said she didn’t plan to grow a mustache or start wearing visors.

“I plan on leaning in with the idea of leading from the heart,” she said.

Wilma thanked the Soldiers in formation for making the ceremony a success.

“Since winning matters, we will continue to support the mission of forging the warrior spirit at the Joint Readiness Training Center, because Army Medicine is Army Strong,” she said.

Editor’s note: Ted Lasso, starring Jason Sudeikis, is an American sports comedy-drama television series about a football coach who is hired to coach a soccer team in England despite having no previous experience coaching soccer. What Ted Lasso lacks in knowledge, he makes up for with optimism, charm, and humor. The series has won 11 Emmy Awards, including back-to-back outstanding comedy series.

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