Assistant Air Force surgeon general makes final stop at Arnold

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She can remember her mother telling her as a young woman that the only jobs she and her sisters were going to be able to acquire were that of secretary, school teacher or nurse.

And a nurse she became.

Maj. Gen. Melissa Rank is the Air Force assistant surgeon general at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Bolling Air Force Base (AFB), D.C. In this role she establishes new and appraises existing personnel policy and enhancement actions for more than 34,000 active-duty officer and enlisted medical personnel.

General Rank says she entered the Air Force in honor of her father who was a Navy civilian.

"My father had severe polio and couldn't serve his country in the capacity of active duty," she explained.

"But, he was a rocket scientist with the Navy and would have loved to work at a place like AEDC."

As one of only three female major generals in the Air Force, General Rank has spent the last 31 years ensuring the Air Force recruits and trains to the highest caliber of nursing care for its medical personnel.

The general will hang up her two stars in mid-November and wanted to make her last stop at a base where she could witness first-hand medics at work.

"This is my last visit before I retire," the general said. "So, the chief (Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Potts) was instrumental in ensuring that my last visit was to a place where I could see the enlisted medics at work."

The general took tours of the AEDC Fire Department, Security Forces Building and the Medical Aid Station.

"I was struck by the capability Arnold has," she explained. "The three departments are an Air Force model for the integration of working for the base and taking care of the patients."

Wade Campbell, EMS Safety Officer with the AEDC Fire Department, was impressed by the general's genuine care for her patients.

"She seemed very interested in the history of EMS at AEDC," he said. "She asked questions about the qualifications, capability, experience and training of the people who provide emergency medical services to the base."

Campbell also said the general seemed impressed with a new piece of equipment, the GlideScope Ranger Video Laryngoscope, which allows EMS personnel to place an advanced airway with very little effort.

Even though Arnold has a smaller medical aid station, Superintendent Senior Master Sgt. Karl Day said Arnold mirrors several, high visibility programs that larger Medical Treatment Facilities across the Air Force provide.

"General Rank was impressed with the capabilities that are provided each day by the Medical Aid Station," Sergeant Day said. "The visit was a great success, and I am proud of our attention to detail and even prouder of our enlisted staff, VA counter-parts, ATA contractors, club staff and Wingo Inn personnel during her visit.
There were tough questions, big initiatives to continue to work on and new found focus garnered during this stay."

Sergeant Day continued, "She was equally impressed with the dynamic relationship that we hold with the VA and ATA provider staff and how we are able to piece together all three work forces under one umbrella. Our Share Agreement makes this a one-of-a-kind attraction found nowhere else in the Air Force."

The general began her career as a staff nurse at Dover AFB, Del., and since then has held a wide variety of clinical and supervisory positions at medical facilities in the United States, Germany and Japan.

She also saw the testing side of AEDC.

"This was my first up close and personal look at Arnold," she said. "I saw the air, space and sea-level simulation facilities and it was eye-watering," she said. "There are a lot of dedicated civilian, contractor and military devoted to this mission or whatever they are called upon to do."

Chief Potts, who accompanied the general, was stationed at Arnold in the mid-to-late 1990s and says not much has changed.

"To me it's like coming back home, especially since a lot of the same people are still here," the chief said. "A lot of them have changed suits, but are still doing the same tremendous work as they did back then."

With only a few days left until her retirement, the general reflects on what she will miss about the Air Force.

"I am going to miss the enlisted," she said. "They are the reason I am here today and coming to Arnold was a great way to close my career watching them in action."

After retirement, General Rank plans to return to Oakland, Md., where her husband and nine-year-old daughter live.