United States Army Medical Department Activity Fort Knox and Ireland Army Community Hospital welcomed a new leader and bid farewell to its former commander in a change of command ceremony June 27 on Brooks Field.
Col. Cornelius Maher, who has held the position since June 2011, relinquished command to Col. Matthew Rettke.
Maher said he has been honored to lead the hospital and its staff over the last two years.
“…There are two reasons folks attend events like this: to rejoice with the individual for a great tour, and to make sure he leaves,” he told the audience. “And so everyone has an opportunity to celebrate. The former can be justly proud for what we’ve accomplished together, and the latter have just seen me pass the flag.”
During his speech, Maher recognized the many accomplishments of the past two years under his guidance. These accomplishments include the introduction and implementation of the Patient Centered Medical Home; securing a new, larger facility scheduled to be built in the coming years; improving primary and outpatient care by providing more access and tailoring all care toward improved health rather than more health care; supporting the Warrior Transition Battalion by building and opening a new complex to optimally provide for the wounded, ill and injured Soldiers who are recovering here; and partnering with the Veterans Affairs to run a highly successful Integrated Disability Evaluation Program to ensure Soldiers in transition are treated properly from a clinical and benefits perspective. The IDES program has completed more than 2,500 Medical Evaluation Boards in the past two years.
Maher will next head to Fort Belvoir, Va., to become the U.S. Army Reserve/Office of the Chief of Army Reserve Surgeon.
Rettke, a native of Richmond, Mich., comes to Fort Knox from his most recent position as the assistant chief of pediatrics at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. Rettke is a graduate of Northern Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. He received his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md., and completed his pediatric internship and residency at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, El Paso, Texas.
Rettke has served in numerous roles in the Army, including chief of pediatric service and chief of the department of medicine at Fort Benning, Ga.; and chief of the Well Baby Clinic, chief of ambulatory pediatrics and assistant chief of the Department of Pediatrics at Tripler Army Medical Center. He was selected to serve as the first deputy commander for clinical services at the Schofield Barracks Health Clinic in September 2008. He commanded the Medical Element at Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras while serving as the Task Force Surgeon. In addition, he has deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Rettke is a board-certified pediatrician and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He told the crowd he was excited to take on the role as commander of the Fort Knox Medical Department Activity and Ireland Army Community Hospital and to continue to move the organization ahead during the coming years.