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Public Affairs Office
CMR 442 APO AE 09042
U.S. Army Hospital – Nachrichten Kaserne
Postfach 103180 69021 Heidelberg, Germany
Contact Steve Davis 371-3317 Tel. 06221-17-3317
October 1, 2008
Break line
    More than 100 medical Soldiers reenlist
    Historic castle provides stage for mass ceremony

    HEIDELBERG, Germany –The weather could have been better, but the fine mist didn’t deter more than 100 medical Soldiers from raising their right hand in a mass reenlistment ceremony at the historic Heidelberg Castle Oct. 1.
    Not only did the Soldiers gather from across Europe in person, one even logged on and received the reenlistment oath from the Europe Regional Medical Command’s senior officer over a video teleconferencing link from Mons, Belgium.
    The Soldiers, from the Europe Regional Medical Command, the Europe Regional Dental Command and the Europe Regional Veterinary Command, reenlisted for a variety of good reasons. The units included the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Heidelberg Medical Department Activity, Bavaria MEDDAC from Vilseck, Germany, and the 30th Medical Brigade, Heidelberg.
    “This is the only job I wake up in the morning and look forward to going to, unlike the civilian jobs I’ve had,” said Spc. John C. Pohl, a radiologist who took the long-distance oath from the SHAPE Army Health Clinic conference room. Pohl said he signed up for three more years so that he could get an additional year of stabilization in his current assignment.
    “My girlfriend and I are talking about setting a wedding date, so I did it for her, too,” Pohl said. His fiancé-to-be, Carrine Mulhall, is Belgian and won’t mind having another year in her home country settling personal affairs before moving on to travel the world, Pohl said.
    Other participants had their own motives. For a special pair of Soldiers from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, it was an opportunity to continue in a family tradition.
    Spcs. Joshua and Jerome Jackson, twin brothers from the LRMC patient administration division, said military service is a family.
    “It’s a good job,” Jerome said, “and we’re just doing what our father did.” Master Sgt. Joe Jackson, their father, just retired and has settled in Hobart, Okla., with his wife, May. The twins’ uncle is also a master sergeant, and they have two brothers, Jeffrey, who is with the Army at Fort Hood, Texas, and Cory Crawford, a Marine at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The twins have been at LRMC for two years, and will get a little more time together before Jerome moves on to Fort Bragg, N.C. and Joshua heads for Fort Sill, Okla.
    “It’s hard balancing family life with the military,” said Joshua, who met and married the love of his life, Amy, on this overseas tour. “You have to go back home and automatically switch over to family man.”
    “But,” interjected Jerome, “being here together has made us both stronger, so it (reenlisting) was a good thing to do.”
    Today, the Army knows the decision to reenlist is often a family decision, and Army leaders from the Secretary of the Army to garrison commanders worldwide signed an Army Family Covenant in 2007 that pledges continued support of Families. In the assembled ranks, the Family members of the re-enlisting Soldiers stood side-by-side with their loved one as the oath was given.
    One Family making the decision to stay on was Spc. Virginia Ireland and her three-month old daughter, Eliza. Ireland’s mother, Joni, was on hand for the castle ceremony, and had her own thoughts about her daughter’s decision to get a guarantee for more schooling.
    “It’s really cool having the ceremony at the castle like this, but it’s good my daughter is doing something good for her future,” Joni said. As her mother spoke, Ireland was looking down at the bundled baby, nodding her head in agreement.
    “I wanted to do something good for her future, too,” Ireland said looking down at the child in her arms.
    For whatever their reasons, the Soldiers all took a shot at taking on more time with an Army at war. The ceremony was designed as a symbolic statement. The Europe Regional Medical Command’s Commanding General and 7th Army Command Surgeon, Brig. Gen. Keith W. Gallagher, who administered the oath of enlistment, plans more reenlistments to include Soldiers who wanted to participate but are taking part in the Expert Field Medical Badge testing at Grafenwoehr, Germany, the same day. Other Soldiers to be included are some forward-deployed Soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The command’s goal is to exceed last year’s retention rate of more than 600 Soldiers.
    “That these Soldiers and their Families decided to stay in boots is just great,” Gallagher said. “This is an Army at war, and they could have gone back to the civilian world with pride in the service they’d already performed. I’m just glad they chose to stay with us.”