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Navy bells, Army colors mark NCR change of leadership

From left, Navy Rear Adm. David Lane, Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, and Army Maj. Gen. Ronald Place during the change of authority ceremony for the National Capital Region Medical Directorate. (Courtesy photo) From left, Navy Rear Adm. David Lane, Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, and Army Maj. Gen. Ronald Place during the change of authority ceremony for the National Capital Region Medical Directorate. (Courtesy photo)

In a ceremony combining time-honored traditions from the Army and the Navy, Rear Adm. David Lane relinquished his position as director of the National Capital Region Medical Directorate (NCR-MD) to Army Maj. Gen. Ronald Place.

The ceremony was held on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, during the 126th annual meeting of AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals.

“Bringing together two different traditions pays greater homage and respect to each,” said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency. Bono officiated the change of authority ceremony, which also included elements from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Public Health Service.

The ceremony combined the sea service’s tradition of bells to mark arrivals – six for Lane and Place, and eight for Bono, corresponding to their ranks – and the land force’s tradition of “passing colors,” to ensure the continuation of leadership. Bono said the melding was particularly appropriate, given the joint nature of NCR-MD.

The directorate was established in October 2013 to exercise authority, direction, and control over Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland; Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia; and their subordinate clinics.

 “We serve the largest concentration of DoD beneficiaries in the world,” said Lane, the outgoing director. Earlier, he noted the directorate extends as far east as Annapolis, as far north as Fort Meade, in Maryland; and as far south as Quantico, Virginia, “with patients that live far beyond those named places.”

During the ceremony, Bono thanked Lane for his superb leadership. “We all need to recognize the potential of what we can do collectively,” Bono said. “Dedication, focus, and innovation have allowed NCR-MD to thrive.”

To continue the success, Bono said, “you need to have the right kind of leader.” That leader, she said, is Place. He began his career as a staff general surgeon at Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Board-certified in both general and colorectal surgery, Place deployed to Afghanistan with the 250th Forward Surgical Team (Airborne) in October 2001. For most of last year, Place has been a focal point in managing and coordinating the historic MHS reforms included in the 2017National Defense Authorization Act.

In his remarks, Place said change is never easy and that Lane is “a tough act to follow.”

 “But readiness is our central mission, and that’s not going to change,” Place said. “We need to continue focusing on the health readiness of the force – fit to fight, ready to win – and a ready medical force that can perform the mission anytime, anywhere, at a moment’s notice.”

 “Practice may never make perfect,” Place said, “but it’s our obligation to continuously learn.”

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