REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The Command Surgeon for the Army Material Command is a plum posting. Sure there’s responsibility, but there’s also plenty of prestige that goes with making sure a workforce of 200,000 people around the world stays healthy.
Of course, for Colonel Matt Hoefer, there was also COVID-19.
Soldiers depend on the Army Material Command to supply their every need. For some 200,000 civilian and military AMC workers, it’s a 24-7 job. Even, when there’s a pandemic.
“We knew that there were things that we couldn’t stop doing.” Col. Hoefer told News 19, “When COVID started we got very focused.”
Col. Hoefner helped to make sure nothing stopped during the pandemic. He focused on everything from caring for patients, to delivering vaccine and even teams to vaccinate.
When you are the command surgeon during a pandemic, you get popular.
“As COVID struck, everybody, no matter what they were doing, training, education, installation operations, they all wanted buy-in. They all wanted to make sure we’re safe, let’s make sure we are managing the risk.” Col. Hoefner said.
It meant the command surgeon’s team moving to the operations center and being involved in everything AMC did and kept doing.
“The factories, the depots and arsenals that continued to repair our tanks and make our ammunition, do all those things that the Army needs to fight. They just kept going.” Hoefner said.
Now, COVID-19 is waning, though a guy who has looked at it from the medical side for more than a year is careful to say, it’s not gone. “We’re still managing risk, you can see that in the building, we’re not 100%. We’re making sure that our employees are safe, and that concern is managed, risk is managed. So, we’ve still got some ways to go, but I think we’re over the hump.”
Colonel Hoefer’s time as AMC’s Command Surgeon is over. His next stop is a one-year fellowship at the University of Georgia. It will be under the auspices of the Army War College and is part of a program to expand the education of officers to prepare them for possible future command.