As we come upon Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking about family - from my own to all the families of those who make up the Military Health System.
It’s because of your heroic efforts that many families everywhere, however that may be defined, are able to be together this week. For many, it’ll be the first time they have shared a meal and enjoyed each other’s company in more than a year.
Far too many families have been torn apart by COVID-19, but our work within DoD and in the civilian sector has been critical in saving lives and keeping families intact. You’ve not only treated those affected by the virus, but our ongoing vaccination efforts are preventing further spread, allowing us to continue our national security missions, and importantly, preventing hospitalizations and deaths. As we approach the deadlines for service member and federal civilian vaccination, I’m hopeful that we are turning another important corner in our battle against COVID-19.
Your work supporting Operation Allies Welcome and Operation Allies Refuge has also ensured that loved ones are staying together. Like generations before them, our Afghan allies have sought the security and support of our country and we are welcoming them with open arms. Families are now able to call our nation home, and the redeeming spirit of America continues.
This past year tested our communities like never before. For the MHS, that’s when we shine.
You stepped up and put your own interests aside to serve others. Our personnel worked countless hours, often away from their own families, in support of these and many other critical, life-saving efforts. And all while continuing to ensure the readiness of our military to fight anywhere, anytime.
So on behalf of families everywhere this Thanksgiving, thank you.
Of course, thank you also for leading by example and getting vaccinated. I know we can do even more. For those of you who are eligible, please consider getting a booster to assure continued protection against COVID-19 and limit the virus’ spread. For our MHS parents, as a pediatrician and a mom, I ask that you consider getting your children vaccinated and protected against COVID-19. Boosters and pediatric vaccines are free and widely available in the MHS.
I hope you’ll spend this well-deserved time with your families and those closest to you. Rest and recharge, but also take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve achieved. It’s a lot, and all our DoD senior leaders are incredibly grateful for your work.
Terry Adirim, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense – Health Affairs
Department of Defense