Message from the SG – Brilliant on the Basics

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Esteemed Navy Medicine Shipmates,

Michael Jordan once said, “Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” The fundamentals are the basics. They are not always the most exciting thing to learn or do, but they are usually the most important. People, teams, and organizations who achieve greatness, do so by mastering the fundamentals – and then sticking to them. You have probably heard me say – we all need to be brilliant on the basics.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent us from contracting this disease; however, when it comes to our collective battle against COVID-19, we need to continue to practice and encourage others to follow the fundamentals of force health protection to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus. Continue to cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, wash your hands often and avoid touching your face, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, monitor your health for symptoms, and enforce restriction of moment.

As medical professionals, we must continue to educate and advise our Sailors, Marines, and family members to stay the course. To help turn fundamentals into habits requires repetitive action. I’m reminded of a basic teaching formula: you hear, you forget; you see, you remember; you do, you understand. And when you truly understand, that is when the basics become part of our DNA. Think muscle memory!

This week marked the 122nd anniversary of the Hospital Corps. As we continue to adapt and confront the challenges posed by this pandemic, the men and women of our Hospital Corps remain a powerful presence on all fronts in the fight against COVID-19. Whether serving as IDCs on surface ships, subs, or diving units; as preventive medicine and laboratory technicians, as general duty Corpsmen at MTFs, or the 8404s embedded with Marine units, our ability to project Medical Power continues to rest on the shoulders of these brave and dedicated Corpsmen.

The recent exploits of Corpsmen during the pandemic have only added luster to the distinguished history of the Corps:

  • The quick thinking of the USS KIDD’s IDC and his two fellow “docs” in medevac’ing a suspected case of COVID and implementing newly developed mitigation procedures helped reduce the impact of the disease aboard the warship.
  • Five HMs attached to the Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s Rapid Response Team helped ensure the success of an unprecedented mission, conducting testing of the USS KIDD’s crew while helping to provide vital medical support 24/7 in a COVID exposure environment.
  • Corpsmen serving with forward deployed preventive medicine teams have remained an early, active, and ever-present force in novel coronavirus surveillance efforts at sea.

And whether contact tracing, onsite testing, administering to patients, or helping to enforce DoD and CDC COVID-19 guidance, our Corpsmen remain at the vanguard of ensuring warfighter readiness across the Department of the Navy.

This month also offers a palpable reminder that Summer is in full-swing and many may be eager to travel or enjoy recreational activities since restrictions have loosened up across the country. Before executing any plans, please take a moment to review NAVADMIN 168/20 regarding our current leave, liberty, and TDY restrictions; as well as the Naval Safety Center, 101 Critical Days of Summer found here.

Please continue to use good judgement, follow existing guidelines, remain vigilant, and most importantly stay safe.

It is important that we all take time to step away from our jobs to decompress, and all of us are eagerly anticipating returning to a sense of normalcy. However, as we try to rediscover what has been lost, let us not forget everything that we have learned along the way. If I had one wish, it would be that you could see the organization from my perspective, as the brilliance you have all demonstrated on the basics have been the building blocks of all that Navy Medicine has accomplished. I am truly humbled to be part of this amazing team.

With my continued respect and admiration,


Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA


Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

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