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By Capt. Bryant Wine
Georgia National Guard
One company of only 100 Soldiers ensures the health of a force of over 4,000 within the Georgia Army National Guard. Affectionately known as “Charlie Med”, the Macon-based Charlie Company, 148th Brigade Support Battalion, safeguards the medical readiness and care for the entire 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
“We’re a brigade asset. We provide them the medical force health protection function,” said U.S. Army Capt. Alan Schmitz, commander of Charlie Company. “We ensure medical readiness of the brigade, like for flu shots this time of year, we do CLS (Combat Lifesaver) training, medic recertification and refresher courses for the brigade.”
Under the Army’s modular BCT system, every brigade combat team is assigned a company exclusively devoted to higher level medical care and readiness. These medical companies are always designated as Company C of the brigade’s support battalion.
While every battalion in a BCT possesses its own medics and physician assistants, Charlie Company houses the personnel and equipment necessary for elevated treatment.
“We have an increased capability of surgical assets, as well as patient hold,” said Schmitz. “We also have x-ray capabilities, pharmacy, and a lab.”
Charlie Med’s capabilities also include a preventative medicine section, mental health section and a brigade medical supply section. Due to the specialized personnel and skill sets, the medical company is authorized a major as company commander unlike other companies in a brigade combat team under the command of a captain.
Charlie Med operates the “Role II” care center for the brigade which serves as an intermediary between the various battalion aid stations and larger medical treatment facilities and hospitals. Here, Charlie Company medical specialists monitor communications for “nine line” medical evacuation requests, and can receive patients by ground and air. Orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and lab technicians, organic to the company, treat patients from the brigade in ways battalions in the field would have greater difficulty or cannot.
During both peace and war, Charlie Company has ensured the medical readiness of the Georgia Army National Guard’s largest brigade while helping Soldiers and units resiliently bounce back from injury and sickness. Charlie Med has supported the 48th IBCT in three Global War on Terrorism deployments to Iraq in 2005 and Afghanistan in 2009 and 2019.
When not deployed, the company maintains the 48th IBCT’s overall medical readiness and trains for its next mission whether at home or abroad. Numerous Soldiers from Charlie Company activated in response to COVID-19 and assisted medical professionals in hospitals across Georgia treating civilians who contracted the disease. Recent deployment experience has made Charlie Med Soldiers skilled in providing quick and quality medical treatment to any person under their care.
“We’re able to meet that golden hour and platinum 30 minutes from the point of injury to medical intervention,” said Schmitz. “We’re more closely located to the fight so we can intervene on an injury or a casualty much quicker to help return that patient back to the fight.”