December Message to the Military Health System Team from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, HON Thomas McCaffery

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MHS Team:

Earlier this month, I joined many of you at the annual convening of AMSUS (the Society of Federal Health Professionals) at National Harbor, Maryland, to discuss the status of the Military Health System: what we’ve achieved, where we’re going as an organization, and how we will get there. Directly following AMSUS, I testified before the House Armed Services Committee alongside the Military Department Surgeons General, Joint Staff Surgeon, and the Director of the Defense Health Agency. Each engagement provided an important opportunity – and critical audiences – to share our steps in carrying out reform across the military medical enterprise to better meet the Department’s needs, and to reaffirm the MHS’s collective vision for the future.

I underscored the new challenges an ever-changing security environment presents to our military and, more specifically, to military medicine – challenges requiring our organization to adapt and evolve to best serve the combatant commands and the Military Departments as we together advance the National Defense Strategy. This period of MHS reform is a time to embrace change and forge an improved system of military health that delivers on our readiness mission to ensure that troops are fit to fight, and that medical professionals are ready to support them in training and on the battlefield.

To better deliver on our mission, the MHS is laser focused on three key areas of organizational reform. First, consolidated management of the direct care and purchased care systems. Second, a reinvigorated focus on readiness within the direct care system. And third, optimizing the size and composition of the military medical force, including the recruitment, education and training, and sustainment of skills to deliver on our readiness mission. For the most current updates on our MHS reform areas of focus, I’m attaching the prepared statement that the DHA Director LTG Place and I provided to the HASC at the recent hearings.

I would like to thank Army Surgeon General LTG Dingle for inviting me to speak at the MEDCOM Leadership Lecture Series on 10 December. This event afforded me the opportunity not only to speak about my leadership philosophy and approach, but also to hear MEDCOM leaders’ thoughts and perspectives on the various changes underway in the MHS.

In the weeks ahead, I hope many of you are able to enjoy some well-deserved time with friends and families over the holidays. For those deployed or unable to take R&R due to serving our warfighters and patients: thank you for your selfless service to the Nation. Each of you across the MHS is playing a part in significant change in our enterprise – helping to inform those changes, making them real, and dedicating your talent and expertise to our mission. I am grateful for your contributions and look forward to our continued work together in the New Year.


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