FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Navy Rear Adm. Bob Kiser, commandant of the Medical Education and Training Campus, concluded an exemplary 38-year navy career with a retirement ceremony on Fort Sam Houston, Texas, June 15.
Kiser became a part of METC history when he arrived as the first commandant in May 2010, ultimately shaping the way for the Department of Defense's new enlisted medical training center to become the largest integrated medical training facility in DoD history.
Under Kiser's leadership, the campus went from initial operating capability to full operating capability within 15 months. Throughout this process the tri-service medical education and training community was bolstered to ensure the sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen, and coast guardsmen under his charge set the highest standards of professional performance and conduct, shaping the way ahead for enlisted military medical education and training operations of the future.
Vice Adm. Matthew Nathan, surgeon general of the Navy and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, hosted the ceremony and spoke of Kiser's accomplishments, camaraderie, and friendship.
"Who do you pick to come down from the Navy and be the ambassador for this amazing joint venture? This venture that brings Army, Air Force, Navy together under the same confines," asked Nathan.
"The choice is clear," he answered. "The Navy sent (Rear) Admiral Kiser."
Nathan recognized Kiser's wife, Geraldine, and his family and thanked them for their support. He also presented Kiser with the Legion of Merit
Guest speaker, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Lambing who previously served as METC's command chief and is currently serving as chief of the Enlisted Medical Force, spoke fondly of serving under Kiser.
"As I look into the audience today Skipper I see your dedication in many spectrums. As a father, husband, friend, subordinate and leader - you truly get it! The magnitude of your dedication is profound."
Lambing added, "Today, we celebrate with you, Geraldine, your family and friends. We know we see further, stand taller, and fight harder because of visionary leaders like you, upon whose shoulders we stand."
During his remarks Kiser recognized his family, including his wife Geraldine and his daughters, as well as the friends and colleagues who traveled from as far away as Hawaii. He mentioned the important people who were not there as well; a daughter serving as a diplomat with the Foreign Service in Pakistan, and his and Geraldine's parents who have passed away.
He talked about his father, a veteran of World War 2, Korea, and Vietnam. "My Dad was a career soldier and he always wondered where he went wrong when his son decided to join the Navy, "Kiser recalled. "He died in 1979 when I was an intern, and I still miss him. But I'll bet that if he were able to speak to us today he would probably agree that this Navy gig turned out okay for his eldest son, and he would be very proud of his children and his grandchildren."
Kiser then spoke of the faculty and staff behind METC's success and called them his "heroes".
"This day is yours. You are all heroes to me. This very hour, all over the world, there are METC graduates tending to those who are most wounded, most vulnerable, most broken, most in need. They can do what they do because of what they have learned here. They can do what they do because of your investment in them now manifesting itself in their investment in others. The hands that heal aren't just their hands; they are your hands as well. The heart that is poured out for those in need isn't just their heart; it is your heart as well. The compassion they exercise in moments of tenderness is not just their compassion; it is your compassion too. All the good they do is rooted in the good you have done in them," said Kiser.
"Thank you for making such a difference in the lives of the people around you. Thank you for making a profound difference in my life. I am better, so much better, for having served in your midst."
Kiser was born on Tachikawa AFB, Japan into a career Army family. He was awarded the Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine and is board certified in family medicine.
His assignments include service as a general medical officer aboard USS Constellation (CV 64); staff family physician at United States Naval Hospital, Guam; faculty family physician at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Calif.; staff family physician aboard USNS Mercy (TAH 19) during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm; director of Residency Training, the Family Practice Residency, Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, Fla.; Navy Family Practice specialty leader; executive officer and then commanding officer, USNH Guam.
He relinquished command of USNH Guam in June 2003 and, after graduating from the Air War College, assumed the responsibilities of the Pacific Fleet surgeon in July 2004. During his tenure he held primary medical responsibility for the deployment of USNS Mercy in support of Operation Unified Assistance I and II, and the Mercy humanitarian deployment of 2006. From July 2007 to July 2008 he served as the assistant deputy chief of staff for Clinical Operations and chief medical officer for Navy Medicine (BUMED M3C). From August 2008 to May 2010 Kiser served as commander, Navy Medicine East and Navy Medical Center Portsmouth. He has been the inaugural commandant, Medical Education & Training Campus (METC), Fort Sam Houston, Texas, since May 28, 2010.
METC is an enlisted medical training center serving the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. METC is the first stop for nearly all entry-level enlisted medical training and a point of return for a majority of advanced enlisted medical training. METC trains the finest medics, corpsmen and techs; supporting our nation's ability to engage globally.