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Lt. Col. Nichelle A. Johnson takes the Kenner Army Health Clinic flag from Brig. Gen Michael J. Talley, deputy commanding general, Regional Healthy Command – Atlantic, during the change of command ceremony Friday on the Kenner lawn. (Photo by Lesley Atkinson)

FORT LEE, VA. --Lt. Col. Nichelle A. Johnson took charge of Kenner Army Health Clinic during a change of command ceremony Friday on the facility’s front lawn.

Members of the Fort Lee community were joined by leaders such as Maj. Gen Rodney D. Fogg, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, who came to observe outgoing commander Lt. Col. Paul J. Kassebaum passing the organization colors to his replacement. The outgoing commander is heading to Landstuhl, Germany to be the Chief of Pharmacy.

Brig. Gen Michael J. Talley, deputy commanding general of the Regional Health Command – Atlantic, was the host of the ceremony.

“For the past two years, Lt. Col Paul Kassebaum has been the best possible leader,” Talley informed the audience. “He has been a commander who made a difference by being a coach, a cheerleader and an unflinching advocate for the people in his charge, patients in his care, and for the mission we all serve.”

Talley continued to speak on Kassebaum’s numerous accomplishments during his tour, including improving medical readiness classification deployability by 8 percent. He also reduced Fort Lee’s non-deployables due to overdue assessments, and he extended primary care hours to improve access for patients. Additionally, he helped Kenner earn the Army Safety and Health Management System Star of Excellence while in command.

“This exemplifies the level of care you will be receiving when you come to get treatment at the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity,” Talley observed

In reference to Johnson. Talley said her bio speaks for itself.

“It is said when great commanders leave, great commanders arrive, and that is what we have with Lt. Col. Johnson,” he said. “Her broad experience, temperament and work ethics will assure her success. She is leader developed, professionally prepared and the right servant leader to command Kenner. She has the passion, commitment and courage to lead Kenner to greater heights.”

Kassebaum spoke during the ceremony, thanking everyone in the community for their contributions to the Kenner team and to his family.

“The family atmosphere at Kenner has made it such a wonderful place to work and receive care,” Kassebuam said. “It has been my honor and privilege to lead and witness such tremendous dynamic efforts. Hate to go, but I am proud to have been able to serve you.”

Johnson comes to Fort Lee from Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C. She spoke about what it means to assume the role as commander at Kenner.

“This has been a 20-year journey – learning my craft as a leader, trainer and subject matter expert in the dietetic’s field,” Johnson said. “I stand before you ever so confident to build upon the successes of Lt. Col. Kassebaum, but at the same time, ever so humble to have the opportunity to serve you here at Fort Lee.”

She told the Soldiers and civilians of Kenner she is proud to be their new commander and there is no other job in the U.S. Army she’d rather have than to be in this position to serve them.