The 452nd Medical Group gained a new commander June 8, when Col. Karl Edelmann stood before members of the group and associated squadrons and accepted the guideon from 452nd AMW Commander Col. Sam Mahaney during a ceremony held at the March ARB Cultural Resource Center.
“I’m just excited to be here, I’m honored to be chosen as Group Commander, said Edelmann. “This is usually a job that goes to senior colonels. I’m a brand new colonel with lots of ideas and enthusiasm.”
Edelmann began his Air Force Reserve career through direct commission in 2001 as a traditional reservist and made Officer in Charge of Physical Examinations at the 927th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. Additionally; Edelmann oversaw the Laboratory Service, Infection Control and Self Inspection programs.
Later in his career as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure process, Edelmann was responsible for the planning and transfer of the medical unit at Selfridge ANGB to MacDill, AFB, Fla. There he was assigned to the 63rd Air Refueling Squadron as the Squadron Medical Element Officer.
He deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM in 2008 and in 2010 was assigned to the 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Joint Base, Andrews, Md., as Chief of Aerospace Medicine. Edelmann became the squadron’s commander in 2011 and successfully lead the squadron through two major inspections.
Being a Group Commander will have its challenges but it seems that Edelmann has brought other challenges with him. As a Board Certified Family Practitioner and Geriatrician he maintains a successful medical practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan. While he is considered the clinical manager, his wife whom he has been married to for 26 years is the business manager and ensures all of the bills are paid. The pair have kept the practice going since 1989.
Scheduling conflicts and being away from the family on a regular basis are other challenges that have come with accepting the job as the 452 Air Mobility Wing’s top doctor.
When Edelmann entered the Air Force Reserve his two children were very young and didn’t understand why their father was going to be away a weekend a month and two weeks a year. Edelmann says at that time, he tried to limit his travel to those scheduled absences until both his children were near entering college. As his daughter entered her first year of college, he deployed which took him away from his practice for a significant amount of time.
Recently his time away from home and his practice has been three to five working days per month out of 20 working days. However, because of his new position as group commander he is now out of his office in Ann Arbor six to eight out of 20 days. To ensure his practice continues to be successful he has hired an additional Physician’s Assistant so the patients are being taken care of, he is also available to his PA 100 percent of the time and he reviews his charts every night.
For Edelmann, being in the military has always been a goal. But it has also always been a family commitment because of where his family has been.
His grandfather was in the Army during World War I in the Ardennes. He raised a family and lost his only son in an Army Air Corps accident in 1944. Edelmann’s father served in World War II and Korea. His uncle was called for service in Vietnam and then it was Edelmann’s turn.
Edelmann says his leadership philosophy is very open and collegial.
“I put mission first and people always. I think that was part of the reason I was asked to consider this job and actually got the job. Having worked with Col. Mahaney before we both realized we have the goals and ideals and really care about people. I believe it’s okay to salute the flag, say the pledge of allegiance, say a prayer and go home and be with your family. Yes we have a mission to do, yes its important but you’ve got to take care of your people in order to do that.”