This week the United States Army Recruiting Command commissioned 55 medical professionals, but instead of a traditional ceremony, it was held virtually and streamed on Facebook. It was just the latest in a series of commissioning ceremonies that has gone virtual due to the ongoing novel coronavirus. Several additional virtual events will be held from June 30 to July 2.

For the recent commissioning of the medical professionals the U.S. Army Recruiting Command partnered with the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office, and Army Surgeon General Lt. General Scott Dingle remotely highlighted a few of the healthcare professionals who received their commissions, and also issued the oath of office during the ceremony, which was live streamed via the Command’s Facebook page.

“The U.S. Army Medical Department is an excellent choice for anyone driven by the desire to care for others as they serve their country,” said Lt. Gen. Dingle. “Caring for others as leaders in the healthcare field is our primary mission. Our job is to be ready to answer the call and to conserve the fighting strength. The Army deployed thousands of health care professionals and support personnel to establish expeditionary hospital facilities and staff civilian hospitals in locations with the greatest need.”

The U.S. Army’s medical units have mobilized across the country, while Army researchers have also joined forces to find breakthroughs in treatments and vaccines. The soldiers who received their commission this week will join the team of Army doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who deliver life-saving care across the country and the world.

The Army has not been alone in going digital with its ceremonies. This week Secretary of Defense Mark Esper pre-recorded his keynote address that will be given to the Naval Academy’s Class of 2020 during Friday’s ceremony, which will be streamed online.

ROTC Commissioning Also Goes Virtual

Across the country virtual or digital commissioning has replaced traditional ceremonies for ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Cadet) programs across the country. This included the Clarkson University’s Air Force ROTC Detachment, which conducted its first-ever virtual commissioning earlier this month. It was streamed via the social media conferencing platform Zoom, which has been widely used by businesses as well as families to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clarkson is a private, national research university that is located in Potsdam, NY.

During the virtual ceremony, the Clarkson University Class of 2020 and the Air Force ROTC Detachment 536 graduates pinned on their gold bars as they were commissioned as officers in the United States Air Force, except for one graduate – the newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Michael Gagnon, who will join the new branch of the United States Armed Forces.

General John W. Raymond, the chief of staff of space operations for the United States Space Force congratulated, Gagnon and his classmates saying, “Be bold, you will build this service from the ground up. You are the future of the United States Space Force.”

Other universities and colleges that have held or will hold virtual or digital ROTC commissioning ceremonies include the University of Southern Mississippi, Florida International University, Notre Dame and the University of Louisville.

“Basically, we are doing a full commissioning, just not in person,” Major Michael J. Dargavell, military science department chair and commander of UofL’s ROTC program told the school newspaper. For Friday’s ceremony the cadets will participate from home, and it will be held on Microsoft Teams and broadcast via Facebook Live.

Difficult times, it seems, call for extreme measures. Being an officer is about adapting and overcoming, and for these new officers this should just be their final school lesson in learning to adapt to unforeseen situations.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at