Graduating Interns Reflect on Their "Once in a Lifetime" Year at USAMMDA
Five experienced Army officers with incredibly different backgrounds, met each other through one commonality – their passion for Army Acquisition. Army Maj. Garrion Jackson, Army Maj. Dana Love, Army Maj. Jonathan Williams, Army Capt. promotable Brandy Gainsley, and Army Capt. Gerrod Gomez, all joined the Program Management–Acquisition Internship Program in 2018 to learn more about how the Army works behind the scenes. They have spent the last year shadowing product managers at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity and the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Command. This is the second time USAMMDA has hosted interns, and going forward, the primary organization within the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command hosting interns.
"USAMMDA is a center of gravity for medical acquisition in support of the Army’s mission. The PM–AIP is an opportunity to invest in the future of our young officers, and hopefully they aspire to bigger and greater leadership positions within the medical acquisition community," said Army Col. Ryan Bailey, USAMMDA commander.
As graduation approaches, the interns reflected on their year of hands-on learning.
"It’s been a lot of temporary duty assignments, a lot of seeing things, and just an invaluable educational experience," said Love. "When we leave the internship, we will really be bringing a breadth of knowledge to the green-suit experience."
The PM–AIP falls under the Long-term Health Education and Training program within the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School. The program allows Medical Service Officers to get a taste of Army Acquisition, particularly program management. Through this program, the interns become level-two certified. PM–AIP requires them to spend one year completing all institutional Defense Acquisition University requirements, while completing on-the-job training supporting product cost, schedule and performance. After the interns complete their year at USAMMDA, they must complete two years of utilization. Afterward, they will be level-three certified in program management.
"I’ve always been on the side of receiving medical equipment, now I’m on the procurement side. As a Warfighter, my experience and my comeback tours have played immense dividends in what we do here," said Williams. "When it comes down to procuring certain items, I have the experience of how it’s actually implemented or used on the battlefield."
At USAMMDA, each intern was exposed to the bigger Army Medicine picture. They were assigned to Project Management Offices and given guidance while assisting in the procurement of medical products.
"I was assigned to the Warfighter Health, Performance and Evacuation PMO," said Gomez. "Since I have an IT background, they positioned me into a spot where we work with a lot of IT to see future technology that is in the works. Seeing patient care in that light has been very exciting."
Throughout their time at USAMMDA, the interns attended several courses across the United States, like the Army Acquisition Professional Course in Huntsville, Alabama. During that course, the interns had a chance to bond for two months as they became immersed in all things acquisition. They learned about identifying the Army Medical risks and gaps while visiting the Capabilities Development & Integration Directorate in San Antonio, Texas. They spent a day at the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, learning about how USAMMDA works with the DLA to provide medical supplies and equipment to the Warfighter. They have seen how a Program Executive Office runs at the PEO for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, and visited the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology in the Pentagon.
These lessons only added to the various experiences the interns already had under their belts. Before beginning her internship, Gainsley spent two years with the Special Operations Command in Korea. Throughout her time as an intern, she has worked for USAMMDA’s Warfighter Deployed Medical Systems PMO, and recommends this program to any Soldier interested in joining.
"It sets you up for success as you transition from the military to the civilian side. Not only did I learn in the institutional training and on the job, but I learned from my fellow interns and some of their assignments and experiences. I relied on them for things I haven’t seen," said Gainsley.
As commander and also the 8X Medical Acquisition consultant for The Army Surgeon General, Bailey says he looks forward to the graduation ceremony, where he can formally congratulate the interns on their hard work this year.
"I tell many young officers that this is another tool in their tool kit," said Bailey. "Knowing how the Army invests its resources to deliver materiel solutions to the Warfighter is critical and important, and it gives them additional skills and abilities that will serve them well throughout their career."
After graduating the PM–AIP, Gainsley will be heading to Commanding General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Gomez will be working with USAMMDA as a product manager; Love will also continue at USAMMDA. Williams will be moving to the USAMRDC, and he sees himself doing more program management work in the future. Jackson will be moving to Orlando after graduation to work with PEO STRI.
"Our group is going to graduate, go out there, and do great things. We’ll take everything we learned during PM–AIP, and always keep the end-user in mind," said Jackson.
With one year of Army Acquisition guidance, forming strong friendships, and experiencing countless immeasurable lessons, these five Army officers will move forward with bright futures ahead of them. The USAMMDA and USAMMA teams have set the interns on a path for a successful future, making a great impact on the lives of Soldiers.