Major General Thomas R. Tempel, Jr. underscores interprofessional collaboration and service at graduation

Major General Thomas R. Tempel, Jr., Commanding General of the U.S. Army Regional Health Command, delivered the dental school’s Graduation Convocation address on Saturday, May 6, 2017, in Wright Auditorium.

Tempel told the 47 graduates that after paying a visit to the dental school’s Community Service Learning Center in Ahoskie, N.C., he had considered rewriting his speech. “I was so impressed with the model of education and the great people I met,” he said. “You are very lucky to have been selected to attend ECU’s dental school.”

Temple stressed the growing importance of interprofessional collaboration in healthcare. He spoke of how an Army dental assistant had recognized a soldier’s mental depression during a recent appointment. The dental assistant reported this to the dentist, and the young soldier was referred to mental health services. Later, the parents of the soldier wrote a letter thanking the dental team for saving their son’s life.

“Where I see interprofessional collaboration between dentistry, medicine, nursing, bioengineering and other disciplines, the results are spectacular,” said Temple. “We can’t achieve overall health without a team effort.”

Major General Thomas R. Tempel, Jr.

Major General Thomas R. Tempel, Jr.

Tempel advised the new dentists to “Seek opportunities to serve your community, your state and our nation through civic activities and organized dentistry. The greater the challenge, the greater the reward, and the greater the difference you can make to those we serve.”

Major General Tempel, Jr. assumed duty as the 27th Chief of the US Army Dental Corps in May of 2014 and as Commanding General of the U.S. Army Regional Health Command—Central in December 2015.

He graduated and received his commission from Gettysburg College in 1987 and then attended the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. He completed a one year dental internship at Fort Jackson, S.C., and then a two year residency in comprehensive dentistry at Fort Bragg, N.C. In addition, he has a master’s degree from the US Army War College and has been appointed as professor of the practice of military dentistry in the Army Postgraduate Dental School, within the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.

He has led at all levels in the Army Medical Department, from commanding a dental company in Landstuhl, Germany, which included a year in Iraq with Task Force 44th MEDCOM, to serving as the commanding general of a regional health system. Highlights of his career include service with several special operations units and leading medical and dental units throughout the United States and Europe.

Major General Tempel is a Diplomate of the Federal Services Board of General Dentistry, the American Board of General Dentistry, and a Fellow in the International College of Dentists and the American College of Dentists.