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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Public Affairs Office

Date: July 17, 2008
No: 08-21

Change of leader for Army research institute

Col. Kevin N. Keenan (left) accepts flag from Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (right) during a change of command ceremony for the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) in Natick, Mass., on July 9. Keenan replaces Col. Beau J. Freund as commander, USARIEM. (Photo by Richard Walunas)
Click for Larger Photo

NATICK, Mass. -- On a day when the temperature and humidity in Natick, Mass., rivaled some that the organization studies to prepare the military for, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) held a change of command ceremony.

On July 9, Col. Kevin N. Keenan took command of USARIEM from Col. Beau J. Freund. Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, was the host for the event.

Weightman said that being in command is the "most daunting yet satisfying job." He continued by saying it involves leading, training and caring for Soldiers' well-being 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, all while accomplishing their mission and making their organization successful.

USARIEM has a challenging task, Weightman said, and plays a vital role for Soldiers, getting them ready for the difficult environments they will face and the stresses they will face when there.

The mission of USARIEM is to "conduct biomedical research to improve and sustain Warfighter health and performance under all conditions."

Some significant accomplishments that occurred during Freund's term, including more than 50 active human and animal research protocols, a research and development collaboration award on the First Strike Ration and $10 million in renovations and upgrades to facilities, Weightman also commented on.

He thanked Freund, the outgoing commander, for his service, and mentioned how he thought of Freund as one of his own "trusted advisors" and an expert on science and technology.

Weightman welcomed Keenan back to Natick, as Keenan had previously been stationed here. Saying Keenan's credentials were "impressive," Weightman continued that "his [Keenan's] three combat tours give him the initial tools…to keep [USARIEM's] focus."

During Freund's comments, he reflected on USARIEM's changes that occurred throughout his time here.

The facilities are better than they have been in years, and our relationship with the Natick Soldier Systems Center is strong, he said.

"USARIEM is a dedicated group of professionals who are passionate about their work and at the top of their game," Freund said.

He proudly announced that USARIEM had been approved for a major military construction project to update their aging medical facility, with funding anticipated in the year 2014.

Freund gave a special thank you to the more than one million volunteers who had signed up to serve their country since Sept. 11, 2001.

He said it had been an honor and a privilege to work at USARIEM. He told the work force to continue to challenge themselves and to "stay focused on the Warfighter."

Keenan thanked Weightman for giving him the opportunity to lead USARIEM. He said Freund had done a great job and his are "big boots to fill."

"The country asked much of you [USARIEM] and you responded magnificently," Keenan said. "I'm pleased and proud to join you."

This page last updated on 10 May 2006.