Labor Day is unique among Federal holidays in that it doesn’t honor a historical event or a person or a people, but rather, an activity: work, or, the struggles of work. The holiday was borne out of a recognition of the struggles of the American worker at the height of the Industrial Revolution.
This year, Labor Day reminds me of work that was hardly recognized in the late 19th century: the solemn work of caring for and saving lives. In the midst of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, I am intensely aware of the work you do and the physical and mental exhaustion many health care workers are experiencing. I am deeply appreciative of the labors and sacrifices each and every one of you make in order to provide world-class care to our Service members, retirees, their families, and to the Nation.
We did not expect that this pandemic would rage on for as long as it has, with an end not quite in sight thanks to the Delta variant, and many not accepting the gift that are the COVID-19 vaccines. Our nation has called upon you again: to fully vaccinate our Service member population, to treat the influx of COVID-19 patients, to surge to hotspots around the country to ease overburdened local healthcare facilities, and to bring forward and care for tens of thousands of Afghans in their new home, our United States of America.
Countless healthcare workers are burned out and leaving the workforce. Their labor, our labor, is often thankless and heartbreaking, causing them to step away. Not so for the Military Health System.
We continue to call upon you, to ask for your tireless effort. Know that it is deeply appreciated by the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, the Chairman and all our other senior leaders. For those of you working this weekend: thank you. For those of you who are not, I hope this holiday brings you some rest and time for reflection.
Your labor has saved and will continue to save many lives. Our nation is grateful and healthier for it. Please let me know how I can support you as we continue our shared work.
Terry Adirim, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
Department of Defense