Command Sgt. Maj. Dedraf Blash relinquished responsibility of Weed Army Community Hospital at Fort Irwin, Calif., to Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Burnard Jan. 13, 2022.
Blash, a Covington, Ga., native, served as the hospital’s senior enlisted advisor since June 2019.
“My goal was to build morale of the Soldiers and show them that Fort Irwin is a wonderful place to be stationed and Weed Army Community Hospital is the perfect medical facility to train, support, develop and ensure readiness while delivering the best health care,” she said.
Blash said she felt the hospital staff accomplished that goal together by the actions of the staff.
“We met 150 percent of our reenlistment aggregate for fiscal year 2022 with many Soldiers reenlisting to stay here at Weed ACH, 110 Soldiers and 38 officers have been promoted, more Soldiers are eager to compete for the Soldier or [Noncommissioned Officer] of the Year, we have more Soldiers training for the Expert Field Medical Badge and we have the Region’s Best Medic who influences the Soldiers to compete in each of these events,” Blash explained.
Burnard acknowledged the accomplishments of the organization during Blash’s tenure.
“Weed ACH is the best in the region in nearly every measurable category and I want us to challenge ourselves to continue that trend,” he said. “This institution, under the NCO leadership of Command Sgt. Maj. Blash, was known for being second to none, and I want to continue that momentum during my time here.”
Burnard, a Fullerton, Calif., native, joined the Army in 2002 and served throughout the Army at duty stations including Fort Campbell, Ky., Fort Carson, Colo., Fort Drum, N.Y., and Fort Irwin, Calif.
“My wife, Kim, and I first arrived at Fort Irwin back in 2008,” Burnard said. “We were here for two years, and I had the opportunity to work in Hospital Education and Training, Medical /Surgical Ward, Mother Baby Unit, Labor and Delivery and [Obstetrics and Gynecology] as well as the [noncommissioned officer in charge] for the Dr. Mary E. Walker Center.”
Burnard said he and his family enjoyed their time at Fort Irwin because of the installation and the people and are excited to be back.
“Weed ACH was my first choice on the [centralized selection list],” Burnard said. “I wanted to be a part of this organization and work inside this state-of-the-art medical facility.”
The community is one of the things Blash said she is sad to leave.
“Fort Irwin will always be a special place for me,” she said. “The community is like family and it’s always hard to leave family.”
As Burnard and his family rejoin the Fort Irwin family, he remains ready to lead.
“If you would have told me 20 years ago that I was going to be anyone’s command sergeant major, I would have told you that you were crazy,” he said. “It is such an honor and privilege to be a part of this great organization and I look forward to learning every day.”