EFMB tests soldiers' abilities, motivation for success

by Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Kosterman
U.S. Army

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea - Friday is a day celebrated by workers around the world because it signals the end to the workweek. For 27 Soldiers serving in South Korea, it was the end of a multi-week challenge that tested their medical skills and dedication to self-improvement and resulted in the awarding of a respected badge.

Candidates from the U.S. and South Korean armies gathered at Warrior Base, a complex of training locations near Paju, South Korea, May 18-29 for an opportunity to earn the Expert Field Medical Badge, or EFMB. The EFMB is a badge worn by those who demonstrate expertise on various medical and soldier tasks. It is a badge that distinguishes the top Soldiers within the ranks of the Army's Medical Corps.

This year's EFMB challenge produced 27 recipients of the badge. There were 180 Soldiers who started the challenge. Among the 15 percent of finishers was a KATUSA Soldier from 2nd Infantry Division.

"(The candidates) represent the best of who we are and who we can become," said Lt. Col. Tom Schumacher, the commander of 168th Multifunctional Medical Battalion and officer in charge of organizing and running the EFMB course.

"They represent every major subordinate unit on this peninsula. they're from the infantry units, the support battalions, the artillery battalions - because that's where Army medicine is."

One of the recipients of the EFMB was 2nd Lt. Sinclair Lee, a medical service officer assigned to 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Lee said the events were challenging and require candidates who compete for the badge to have exceptional skills understanding the intricate details that are required to treat casualties on the battlefield.

Lee was the first to complete the rucksack march, a 12-mile course that must be finished in three or fewer hours. It is the final test the Soldiers must pass in order to earn the EFMB.

"It feels great (to earn the EFMB)," said Lee after completing the march in 2 hours, 34 minutes. "I didn't think I was going to get it, but I'm here and it's a good feeling of accomplishment."

Lee said that while he's still a junior officer, it is important for him to demonstrate his capacity to learn and perform tasks that he expects Soldiers in his charge to do. The ability to feel empathy for Soldiers performing tasks is something Lee said will make him a better leader.

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