Allegations at San Antonio Medical Center

| July 26, 2022

Col. Ken Bode, the outgoing commander of the 959th Medical Operations Squadron, says  the Joint Base San Antonio hospital has a deeply ingrained toxic culture of “cronyism and sycophancy” that is “an affront to ideals of military leadership.”  Well, actually he says the Air Force side of it is OK, all the fault is on the Army side.

Bode, an orthopedic spine surgeon, said he repeatedly raised problems to his chain of command but that his superiors downplayed or ignored the concerns. So he tried to make a point by quitting Tuesday, his final day on the job before his replacement took over Wednesday.

Brooke Army Medical Center is a joint Army-Air Force organization with more than 240,000 beneficiaries in the San Antonio region. About 4,000 patients visit the its campus and six outpatient clinics each day.

The 959th Medical Group employs 1,540 airmen who work alongside more than 6,000 Army personnel at the 425-bed facility.

Service cultures clashed and egos ruled, causing friction on matters large and small, according to Bode, airmen on social media and one retired master sergeant who spoke to Air Force Times.

The Army has eschewed cooperation and common sense at every turn, starting with its refusal to adopt a joint name like “Brooke Military Medical Center” instead, Bode wrote in his resignation letter.

Air Force Times

The Army made it clear that the airmen were guests in the building, a retired master sergeant who left Brooke Army Medical Center in 2015, three years after the 959th Medical Group stood up at the joint base, told Air Force Times.

Airmen were held to Army rules that unnecessarily complicated their jobs and slowed medical procedures, the former respiratory specialist said Thursday.

For example, the Army follows state laws that require troops to hold certain licenses to administer drugs. The Air Force holds itself to less prescriptive federal rules that qualify more airmen to handle medicine without specific licenses, the retired master sergeant said.

That means that in certain cases, airmen have to find soldiers who are certified to administer a particular medication instead of doing it themselves. In other situations, airmen are told they have to go through soldiers to speak to physicians instead of contacting the doctors directly, the former senior noncommissioned officer said.

Ibid

Basically the allegations say that since the Base Realignment and Closure commission (BRAC) mandates, the Army and Air Force medical facilities were supposed to merge. The allegations are that despite 10 years of co-locating, the Army has done little or nothing to integrate with the Air Force folks and treats them like red-headed stepchildren, as well as acting like office politics are more important than patient care.

The Air Force Times allegations are pretty damning, especially as petty and political as we have seen the Pentagon acting. I’d like to hold opinion until after the attendant investigations are done – only one side of the story has been heard. and the last time the good Colonel complained, 5 of 9 accusations were borne out – but that means almost half, 4 of 9, were not. Ought to be interesting to watch, though.

Category: "The Floggings Will Continue Until Morale Improves", Air Force, Army, Morale

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Prior Service

I’m torn. My 33 years of Army service have predisposed me to assume the army was indeed acting stupidly. My periodic encounters with the Air Force over that same 33 years mean I’m also willing to believe they are simply whining.

MustangCryppie

Air Force sensitivity meet Army 2×4 leadership model.

Fyrfighter

At least part of what I read said to me that the Air Force holds its people to a lower standard, and wants to keep it that way, while the Army feels differently..

As David says, I’ll withhold judgement until all the facts come out.

Anonymous

Having seen both, I concur.

Green Thumb

Yeah.

State SLB laws / rules and Federal rules come into play here.

Kinda complicated, but certian medical professions are held to state SLB standards as, if they don’t, they can get their licenses pulled.

Feds argue otherwise. Touchy subject.

Martinjmpr

I guess the question would be, if a person not licensed by the state to dispense medications does so, and there is a complication, can that person be prosecuted or face other legal consequences by the state? Given that JBSA is likely considered a “federal enclave” I doubt it.

I can’t help but wonder if requiring state certification is a way of the Army trying to foist its responsibility (for making sure that people are qualified to perform certain tasks) onto the state or onto the individual.

IOW, if the person (whether soldier or civilian employee) presents a valid state certification, the Army no longer has to ensure that the person is qualified because they have been certified by the state.

Martinjmpr

I wish I could say I was surprised by this but after 23 years in the Army, I am not.

When I was deployed to the Middle East in 2004 I told my family at home that being overseas was like a movie. “Black Hawk Down?” they’d ask? My reply was “No. “Office Space.” Perfect encapsulation of the idiotic bureaucratic inefficiency that is so common in the military.

Every field grade commander in an office in the Army seems to be a Lumbergh, sending out memos about putting cover sheets on the TPS reports. And every Sergeant Major is the Tchochke’s manager, inspecting uniforms to make sure that every soldier is wearing 15 pieces of flair.

My question would be: If both the Army and the Air Force are doing, in this case, the same job, then why are they separate services? How much duplication of effort are the taxpayers paying for?

KoB

Pissing contest? Di@k waving at its finest? Turf War? Redheaded Stepchild? Welp, it DID used to be The ARMY Air Corps. Maybe Army is still pissed about that? Or the old Key West Agreement? AF pissed cause they can never seem to win during a certain Gridiron Competition? gabaf

Here’s a novel idea…DO YOUR FU@KING JOB!

Kansas Gunner

Can we just admit that the entire Joint Base concept has been a steaming failure at this point and put a stop to it.

Stacy0311

Joint Base concept=more jobs for field grade and general officers. And associated staff
The Joint Base has a commander.
Each “base” of the Joint Base has a commander.
eg. Commander JBSA
Commander Lackland
Commander Fort Sam Houston
Commander Kelly

lather rinse and repeat for every other Joint Base. And every HQ is putting out useless, repetitive and often contradictory instructions, guidance, policies and regulations.

The Stranger

Sounds about right. But I’ll bet that the nitwit who came up with this idea got “top block” on his/her OER!

poetrooper

For what it’s worth, ol’ Poe, in more than three decades of marketing to the military medical community, called on military medical facilities from Loring AFB in Caribou, Maine, to Tripler AMC in Oahu; from Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks to Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico and on to Gorgas Hospital in Panama.

Whenever Poe was training a new guy for his government sales department, he’d always offer this insight: of the three services, Army medicine is the most receptive and responsive to new ideas and products. Navy medicine is second but somewhat hindered by tradition and logistical red tape.

Air Force medicine? In spite of their service’s shiny public image of being on the cutting edge of technology, their medical corps is mostly hidebound, paranoid and generally suspicious of and resistant to most things new.

Poe’s last consulting gig, some fifteen years ago, showed him that nothing had changed from the time he’d retired in 2000.

Last edited 4 months ago by Poetrooper