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New unit name, royal banner for Forces' medical personnel

The Canadian Forces Medical Service (CFMS) has a new name and a new royal banner.

On Oct. 8, 2013, Governor General David Johnston announced that Queen Elizabeth had approved a new name, Royal Canadian Medical Service (RCMS), for the CFMS.

Two weeks later, the newly named service was visited by its colonel-in-chief, the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, who presented a royal banner to mark contributions by medical personnel during the Canadian Forces' decade-long combat operations in Afghanistan. It marked only the third time such a banner had been presented within the Canadian Forces.

During her visit to the main RCMS training centre at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ont., Princess Anne praised medical personnel for the lives they saved in Afghanistan. "Your great success was paid for with great sacrifice," she said.

Brigadier-General Jean-Robert Bernier, the surgeon general, said her service to the RCMS was appreciated, noting that she travelled to Afghanistan "several times at great personal risk to see [her] Canadian and British troops at work."

Princess Anne presented the royal banner "as a sign of royal favour in recognition of the sacrifice, valour and clinical excellence of RCMS personnel during operations in Afghanistan since 2002." During those operations, casualties within the medical service were second only to those in combat arms units such as infantry regiments.

"This is a great honour," Bernier said of the new banner, which will be housed and displayed at CFB Borden.

The Canadian Forces Health Service, which is home to the RCMS and more than a dozen other branches such as the Royal Canadian Dental Corps, also unveiled a formation badge during Princess Anne's visit. It is the first such badge for the 6,300 health personnel in 43 units and 83 detachments who are under the command of the surgeon general.

The CMA's current president, Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, is an honorary colonel in the RCMS, serving with 1 Field Ambulance in Edmonton.

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.