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Madigan’s command changes hands

Col. Hope Williamson-Younce passes the colors for Madigan Army Medical Center to her new senior advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Gilberto Colon, in a change of command ceremony on Watkins Field on JBLM on Aug. 4. Photo credit: Ryan Graham

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MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord — The march of time in a hospital can blend the days together, a rush of tasks and activities repeated and intertwined. But the Army is expert at marking the years with ceremony. Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., bid farewell to one commander and hailed another in a change of command ceremony on Watkins Field on Aug. 4.

Col. Jonathan Craig Taylor handed the unit's colors back to the ceremony's presiding official, Brig. Gen. Roger Giraud, the deputy chief of staff for Operations for the U.S. Army Medical Command, on Watkins Field on a hazy summer morning with the mighty Tahoma (Mount Rainier) watching over the proceedings.

"For the past two years, Craig Taylor has led the second largest military treatment facility with professional leadership excellence, as he built synergistic teams that served as combat multipliers to building readiness. Professionals assigned to Team Madigan have indeed flourished under your exceptional leadership and teamwork," said Giraud.

Taylor took the helm of Madigan, as commander and market director of the recently certified Puget Sound Military Health System, in the summer of 2021 just in time for COVID-19 to produce a surge with the Omicron variant that resulted in the hospital providing care to a rapid increase in patients. Once past that hurdle, Taylor oversaw the transition of civilian personnel, assets and operational authority to the Defense Health Agency last summer.

Commanding Madigan means overseeing a brigade of not only Soldiers — to include hundreds of doctors, nurses and technicians in training — but also civilians, contractors and volunteers who aid in the provision of care for a large and vital base as well as an active retiree community.

Giraud noted the size and scope of commanding Madigan saying, "Craig commanded and oversaw over 4500 staff members and numerous external clinics responsible for an annual budget of over $620 million providing care for over 100,000 enrolled beneficiaries in three states."

In his parting remarks to the Madigan staff on hand, Taylor offered the credit to the team.

"The entire team at Madigan delivered readiness and health care to the Pacific Northwest during unprecedented times," he said. "Each and every day this team has stood watch over this community, delivering 24/7, 365 healthcare during one of the most challenging seasons for our nation and world. This team has delivered outstanding care with compassion."

Like Giraud before him, Taylor spoke of the great importance of family in his military journey.

"It really is about family; my family growing up was part of the military family. My father served many years, and those years expanded our family and taught us that family is always around us — everywhere and always present. Our neighbors became aunts and uncles, their children became cousins; our closest friends became brothers and sisters," said Taylor, turning his thoughts to the Madigan family. "It's been an honor and privilege to be a part of this family for this season."

Taylor now heads to San Antonio, Texas, to the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, the Army's premier medical training facility.

Giraud introduced Madigan's new commander, Col. Hope Williamson-Younce.

"Hope comes to us from the Office of the Surgeon General where she served as the interim corps chief of the Army Nurse Corps, where she led and encouraged her corps to grow and succeed," he said.

Williamson-Younce's distinguished career has been filled with study, deployment and leadership. She has earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees with majors in nursing and strategic studies. She deployed as an enlisted Soldier to Saudi Arabia in support of Desert Shield/Desert Storm and a commissioned officer to Iraq in multiple operations as a nurse in a forward surgical team and a combat support hospital. She has commanded units across the DoD. She is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit and was awarded the Surgeon General's "9A" proficiency designator.

Before thanking the 1st Corps Band, the salute battery, distinguished guests and Spc. Daniel Avila for an inspiring rendition of the national anthem, Williamson-Younce turned to the formations that had been standing on the field for nearly an hour an insisted they, "Shake it out!"

With a seating section full of relatives, friends and supporters, she quickly returned to a common theme of the day - family, noting she too comes from a military family.

"My mother reminded me that she signed the permission slip that enabled me to enter the Army. She's the person who had the greatest influence in my life and served with joy as a military spouse while raising nine children and working as a certified nurse assistant for nearly 40 years. And I read this quote yesterday and thought about her, it said, ‘When somebody helps you while they're struggling too, that is not help, that is love,'" said Williamson-Younce.

The commander gave multiple references to our nation's historical icons, like Thomas Paine's words on being a stalwart soldier when the battle grows hard. She ended her comments with the words of one of the Army's most influential leaders.

"In 1778, the great Prussian strategist Gen. von Steuben, published the first regulations of the American Force providing the following intent for commanders. ‘The preservation of the soldiers' health should be the commander's greatest care.' This declaration rings true today. The most valuable asset we have is our service members and our civilians. We must take great care of America's sons and daughters," concluded Williamson-Younce.

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