San Diego, California - Rear Adm. Timothy Weber assumed command of Navy Medicine West (NMW) from Rear Adm. Paul Pearigen during a ceremony at Naval Base San Diego, Saturday.
The ceremony, which was presided over by Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison, Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, will be the last for NMW. On Oct. 1, NMW will become Medical Forces Pacific, with a new mission and organizational structure, focusing on operational medical readiness for Sailors and Marines, as well as the clinical readiness of the Navy’s medical force.
“Changes of command are important events in the life of a command,” Faison said. “They not only signify the transfer of complete authority, responsibility, and accountability from one leader to another, they are also an opportunity to recognize the dedication, commitment, and service of the command and no team is more deserving of celebration and recognition than that of Navy Medicine West.”
Faison commended NMW staff for maintaining focus and commitment during a time of unprecedented change, making a difference for the service members by watching over their health.
The changes occurring within Navy Medicine are due to the transfer of all military hospitals and clinics to the management of the Defense Health Agency, which started on the East Coast Oct. 1, 2018 and is due to be completed no later than Sept. 30, 2021.
“This is my greatest privilege and I am honored to serve alongside each of you,” Weber said to the audience during the ceremony, which included NMW staff. “The dynamic landscape of military medicine’s transformation is providing us an opportunity to focus squarely on readiness, keeping Sailors and Marines healthy and ready to fight tonight. While we advance our efforts and forge new partnerships to increase warfighter lethality and ensure battlefield survivability, we will also continue to take care of each other because that’s what family does and I could not be more proud to call myself a member of the Navy Medicine West family.”
A native of Holland, Michigan and graduate from the University of Notre Dame, Weber has been serving as the NMW chief of staff for the past two years, preparing the region for the transition, making him uniquely qualified to serve as the next commander.
Weber also thanked Pearigen, who retired in a ceremony immediately following the change of command, on his leadership, successful tour as NMW commander, and his 27-year naval career.
“You have kept Navy Medicine West on point in support of the warfighter and their families by ensuring operational platforms were ready when called upon,” said Weber.
Faison discussed how Pearigen’s11 leadership impacted the Fleet and Fleet Marine Force during his tenure as NMW commander, highlighting specific achievements:
• Deployment of more than 2,000 personnel to support of missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Djibouti
• Support for USNS Mercy and USNH Comfort as they participated in numerous humanitarian missions
• Execution of multi-million-dollar military construction projects, including new primary care clinics at Camp Pendleton and Apra Harbor, Guam
• Naval Medical Center San Diego being named as a Military Health System Virtual Medical Center
• Expansion of tele-critical care to Navy hospitals and clinics on the East Coast and in the Pacific Rim, ensuring 24/7 access to consultation with critical care providers
• Building partnerships with the VA San Diego Health System, allowing Navy providers access to complex medical cases to support maintaining critical wartime medical skills
• Providing Navy Medicine’s research labs with critical support and resources necessary for the conduct of ground-breaking research and development
“Rear Admiral Pearigen showed us what was right—all day, every day,” Weber said. “The Navy Medicine West team is indebted to him for his leadership and we are a stronger organization because of him. I am truly honored to follow in his footsteps.”
In his remarks, Pearigen discussed Navy Medicine’s two-fold mission of keeping warfighters healthy and mission-ready and ensuring the medical force has the training, skills, and abilities to do so.
"Navy Medicine West's true task is to generate readiness—the medical readiness of the naval warfighter to go confidently into harm's way with protection, prevention and preparation,” said Pearigen “And the readiness of ourselves as a medical force to deploy, providing far forward response to combat injury, expeditionary health service support as our Sailors and Marines are present around the globe, and contingency response in natural disasters or humanitarian crises to bring aid in our world's troubles."
Pearigen went on to say that, throughout the region, the deckplate work of Navy Medicine West’s team is unmatched in mission accomplishment.
Closing out his remarks, Pearigen said that he could not imagine anyone better to turn over command of NMW than Weber.
“Your broad experience, unmatched commitment and highly effective leadership will serve not only Navy Medicine West, but also Navy Medicine in the challenging years ahead.”
Navy Medicine West (NMW) leads Navy Medicine’s Western Pacific health care system and global research and development enterprise. Throughout the region, NMW provides medical care to nearly 700,000 beneficiaries across 10 naval hospitals, two naval dental centers, and 51 branch clinics located throughout the West Coast of the U.S., Asia, and the Pacific. Globally, NMW oversees eight research laboratories that deliver scientific expertise in support of warfighter health and readiness.