Surgeon General

SG’s Message – Remember! Celebrate! Act! “A Day On…. Not A Day Off”

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Shipmates,

On Monday, our Nation will pause in remembrance and celebration of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr – an influential American civil rights activist, leader, strategist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  Throughout his life, Dr. King worked to bend the universe’s moral arc toward justice and unity.  He called upon all of us to do the necessary work to deliver on our country’s promise of providing equality, peace, and liberty for all.  

Central to this idea – and a cornerstone to One Navy Medicine’s Culture of Excellence – are the tenets of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  As an organization that values the principles of high reliability, we endeavor to foster inclusion and connectedness – and to do the right thing, especially when it is hard.   We collectively strive to create and maintain environments where ALL members are treated with dignity and respect.  We take this action not only because it is the right thing to do – it makes us a stronger and more effective team that wins.

While delivering a speech in Montgomery, AL, Dr. King asked his audience one basic question:

“What are you doing for others?”

I encourage each of you to draw inspiration from Dr. King’s inquiry and to recreate his belief through selfless, responsible, safe, and appropriate community service. Doing for others doesn’t have to be dramatic, earth-shattering or grandiose – it just needs to be an honest manifestation of what you can earnestly afford to give of yourself coupled with seeing the good in others.  So whether you plan to give blood to help address the nationwide shortage; tutor a young person; mentor a colleague; assist those who are food insecure; clean up a public space; volunteer at a shelter; or merely engage in a meaningful discussion to cultivate deeper understanding of a co-worker, what you do makes a difference! 

Nelson Mandela once said:  “There is no greater gift then that of giving one’s time and energy to help another without expecting anything in return.”  Making time to volunteer or give back on this day of service and beyond is a great way to honor the legacy of Dr. King’s dream.

Navy Medicine is comprised of Sailors and civilians who provide expertise, know-how, and perspective shaped by personal journeys. We are a team of individuals who represent many different cultures, ethnicities, and experiences – all united in a common goal of supporting the enduring operational mission.  Together One Navy Medicine is strong in providing medical power for naval superiority, but through the application of the principles championed by Dr. King, we can stand united in arms to combat a bigger enemy that adversely affects the health of individuals and communities – Injustice.

More information about Dr. King’s life and possible volunteer opportunities is available at: https://www.defenseculture.mil/Portals/90/Documents/Observances/MLK/INFOBSE-MLK-20211109.pdf?ver=xOkgYKollQ3POgFwHZ2Mcw%3d%3d

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG Sends

SG Message – Thank You for Standing Holiday Watch!

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Esteemed Colleagues:

As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season I’d like to offer special appreciation to those who are currently deployed, selflessly standing the watch to preserve our precious freedoms and to those who have stepped up to take holiday duty so their shipmates can be with their families. As a world-wide 24/7/365 operation, Navy Medicine couldn’t carry out its mission to project medical power for naval superiority without your dedication and mission focus-THANK YOU!

Also, remember that the holidays can be a stressful time.  We ask that you continue to look after your shipmates; never underestimate the positive impact your actions can have on those who may be in need of support and understanding.

The coronavirus remains a challenging and persistent adversary, and we appreciate everything you’ve done to keep Sailors, Marines, military family members, and our fellow citizens safe.  We are immensely grateful for all the incredible work you have done across all our platforms during these busy and trying times. Your patients are enjoying the holidays with their families because of your compassionate and expert care. Well done!

On behalf of the entire Navy Medicine Leadership team, we wish you a safe and restful holiday and look forward to seeing you next year energized and ready to surmount whatever new challenges come our way.  Please take a moment to click on one of the links below to watch a holiday video message from the FORCM, DSG, and myself.  There are “special scenes” at the end that you don’t want to miss 😎

Navy Medicine Holiday Video:

— Navy Medicine DVIDS (Gov’t Computer Access):

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/826373/us-navy-surgeon-general-holiday-video

— Navy Medicine YouTube Channel:

— Navy Medicine Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/USNavyMedicine

Happy Holidays!

With my deepest gratitude, SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA
RADM, MC, USN
Surgeon General, U.S. Navy
Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG’s Message – What Navy Medicine Leadership is Thankful For

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Esteemed Colleagues,

As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the opportunity to support our patients, our warfighters, and our great nation.  I am thankful for the opportunity to work with all of you in Navy Medicine.  Thanksgiving Day for many will be an opportunity to enjoy time with family, friends, and eat good food.  For some, your enjoyment will be a call or live stream video with loved ones.  I ask that each of you take a moment to give thanks to those who support and encourage you.  There will be many shipmates throughout Navy Medicine who will be standing the watch at sea, supporting the Marine Corps, manning wards and clinics, or our ongoing mission throughout the country and around the globe.   Please remember to thank them for their continued dedication and sacrifice. 

Next week FORCM Roberts and I will be traveling to Washington State and Montana to thank a few more of our shipmates who deployed on short notice to help communities in need.  I fully realize that in order to support these missions, the workload at our Military Treatment Facilities also increases – so THANK YOU for carrying on our mission of taking care of Sailors, Marines, and family members while others are away.  Whether we were putting shots in arms at vaccination sites, providing scientific and evidence-based data to patients so they could make informed decisions, or providing patient care at overtaxed community hospitals – we have made a significant difference; we have earned the thanks of a grateful nation.

As we enter the holiday season, we know the days can be fun and joyful, but they can also be a source of stress.  Please be aware of others who may need extra support and reach out to our fellow Sailors.  Even through great difficulty we can find something to be grateful for.  Gratitude is an important foundation of good mental health so please pause and reflect on all that you can be thankful for.  For my part, I am immensely grateful to all of you for the great work you are doing across all of our platforms in these very dynamic and challenging times.  Your contributions to the mission everyday directly support the defense of our Nation’s precious freedoms. Freedoms for which we should all rejoice.

On behalf of the entire Navy Medicine Leadership Team, I cannot express our gratitude enough for all you do to care for our Sailors, Marines and their families.  We are grateful and thankful for you! 

Stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

With my deepest gratitude, SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG’s USMC Birthday and Veteran’s Day Message

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Esteemed Shipmates,

This week we celebrate two events that underscore the service, sacrifice, and dedication of our Armed Forces and remind us of the essential contributions of our One Navy Medicine Team.  Today, U.S. Marines around the globe celebrate a 246-year legacy of battlefield skill defined by courage, discipline, loyalty, perseverance, adaptability, leadership, and warfighting innovation.  For Navy Medicine, today is a celebration of that shared heritage and our special bonds of service.  We have marched with Marines through dirt, sand, and mud to provide lifesaving medical care.  From the halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli, at Guantanamo Bay in the Spanish-American War, the Western Front of the First World War, and in every conflict and engagement, we have been comrades-in-arms.  To Marines everywhere – and all Navy medical personnel who have served on the Greenside, including the 8,500+ Corpsmen, Dentists, Medical Service Corps Officers, Nurses, and Physicians in BSO-27 billets today – Happy Birthday and Semper Fi!

Tomorrow, we observe Veterans Day.  Every Veteran has their own story about entering military service.  After the attack at Pearl Harbor, thousands lined up at their local recruitment stations; this same desire to serve echoed decades later following the attacks on 11 September.  For some, military life began at an academy or ROTC unit.  For others, it started with a draft lottery and notice.  Regardless of the path to service, era, or branch — everyone who has worn the uniform has taken a sacred pledge to serve as America’s shield and sword.

To our Veterans past and present – Thank You!  You have lighted the path we follow today and have preserved our cherished freedoms. To you we owe our endearing respect and gratitude.

With profound admiration and thanks,

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA, FAAOS
RADM, MC, USN
Surgeon General, U.S. Navy
Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG’s Message – Strengthening our Tradition of Excellence

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Esteemed Shipmates,

Next Wednesday (13 October) will mark our Navy’s 246th birthday. Our history and heritage form our identity, telling us who we are and what we stand for. Our core values of honor, courage, and commitment have been passed down from our founders. They charged our Navy with the solemn duty to serve as the shield of our republic.  Happy Birthday and thank you for your service in support of the world’s most powerful Navy. 

The foundation of Navy Medicine has been and always will be our people.  Future battles will not be won by technology or overwhelming industrial strength alone. Our true competitive advantage is America’s naval ingenuity, backed by Sailors from diverse backgrounds who share a common ethos of mutual respect and decency.  I recently signed a new Navy Medicine Culture of Excellence (NMCOE) policy statement, which promotes building a healthy, inclusive environment where every member of our team has the tools and support needed to maximize their potential. 

Our Navy Medicine culture must continue to promote psychological, physical, and spiritual Toughness; a Trust built on inclusivity, learning, and self-improvement; and Connectedness marked by the relationships and resources that bind us all together. NMCOE focuses on doing our best, making healthy choices, and holding each other accountable for modeling Signature Behaviors that optimize our performance and undoubtedly make us a more effective and lethal warfighting force:   

1)     Treat every person with respect

2)     Take responsibility for actions

3)     Hold others accountable for their actions

4)     Intervene when necessary

5)     Be a leader and encourage leadership in others

6)     Grow personally and professionally every day

7)     Embrace the diversity of ideas, experiences, and backgrounds of individuals

8)     Uphold the highest degree of integrity in professional and personal life

9)     Exercise discipline in conduct and performance

10)  Contribute to team success through actions and attitudes

I am counting on every member of our One Navy Medicine team to be proactive in fostering an atmosphere of respect and professionalism. Attached to this message is our Navy Medicine COE policy statement. You can also find this document on our public website:

https://www.med.navy.mil/About-Us/Mission-and-Vision/Culture-of-Excellence/

For more than two centuries, our adversaries changed, our technologies evolved, and our leaders have come and gone; however, our culture is enduring, and we must strive to make it excellent. Only as a unified force, free from discrimination, harassment, and inequality, can we effectively work together to achieve operational readiness and project the Medical Power needed to support Naval Superiority.

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG sends

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA
RADM, MC, USN
Surgeon General, U.S. Navy
Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG’S Message – Remembering the Service and Sacrifice of our Fallen Shipmates

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Shipmates,

As military service members, we purposely go into harm’s way to protect and preserve our national interests.  We deploy forward and work in dangerous environments.  We knowingly risk our lives to serve others, and understand we may be called to make the ultimate sacrifice.

On September 4th, the Navy announced the names of those lost in the MH-60S helicopter crash off of San Diego.  Among those five crewmembers were two of Navy Medicine’s own –HM2 Sarah Burns of Severna Park, MD and HM3 Bailey Tucker of St. Louis, MO.  To all those who knew them and served beside them, Sarah Burns and Bailey Tucker are more than names.  Both have been described as compassionate individuals who joined the Navy with a desire to give back.

Inspired by her paternal grandfather’s service, HM2 Burns enlisted in the Navy in 2010. She spent those first years as an aircraft mechanic with Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 84, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 85 before deciding to cross-rate and become a Search and Rescue Medical Technician. HM2 Burns became a fully qualified Corpsman in November 2020 and was assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight. 

HM3 Tucker’s path to Navy Medicine was shorter, but he too shared Burns’ goal of serving a greater cause.  He enlisted in 2019, a year out of high school.  For Tucker, being a Corpsman and having the chance to serve others and save lives was his life’s calling. Serving with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight afforded him this opportunity to do what he loved.

Each and every day we rely on highly trained Sailors like HM2 Sarah Burns and HM3 Bailey Tucker to take on demanding missions, keep us operationally ready and ensure our warfighters remain in the fight.  They represent the very best of America; less than one percent of our fellow citizens have volunteered to serve in the military.  And we are painfully reminded with their tragic deaths, service does not come without risk, even beyond active combat zones.

Like HM3 Max Soviak, who died August 26th on the front lines of Operation Allies Refuge, although their lives came to an end much too soon, they shall be remembered as inspiring examples of devotion to duty and service to others.  Please hold them and their families in your thoughts, prayers, and hearts.

With my continued respect and admiration,

SG sends

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA
RADM, MC, USN
Surgeon General, U.S. Navy
Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG Message – Answering the Call…Any Time or Place

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Esteemed Shipmates,

Like many of you I watched the footage of the last plane leaving Afghanistan with a whirlwind of emotions. That C-17 lifting off at 3:29 pm (EST) on August 30th marked the end of our Nation’s longest war.  Over the last two decades our One Navy Medicine Team played an indispensable role providing frontline care pivotal in saving life and limb.  From the immediate combat casualty care on the front lines of the battlefield, the role of FRSS/STPs, to the 11-year command of the NATO Role III Multinational Medical Unit in Kandahar we succeeded in our mission to advance healthcare and surgical needs in an inhospitable environment.

Sadly, this hard-fought war cost this Nation some of its best and brightest. Some 2,461 American military personnel were killed in action in Afghanistan and over 20,000 wounded.  Their names, life stories, sacrifice and devotion will remain with us. Reaching any closure is made more difficult with the tragic death of HM3 Maxton Soviak, a 22-year old Corpsman from Berlin Heights, Ohio killed in a terrorist attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul last week.  We continue to mourn the loss of one of Navy Medicine’s own, as well as the 11 Marines and one Soldier who also perished in the blast. We hope that in time the feelings of anguish will be tempered by the knowledge that they gave their all to protect people in need.  In addition, as I write this an extensive search and rescue mission continues for the crew of a helicopter assigned to USS Abraham Lincoln. Please keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

As our chapter in Afghanistan ends, a new one has begun with the care for Afghan evacuees at DoD bases both stateside and overseas.  DoD is providing temporary housing, sustainment and support—including medical care—to over 100,000 fleeing Afghans, both young and old.  Members of our Navy Medicine team have reported to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Joint Base Fort Dix, Fort Pickett, Camp Atterbury, Indiana, US Naval Air Stations Rota and Sigonella, as well as special camps in Bahrain and Kuwait to screen evacuees for COVID-19, provide vaccinations and medical care, where needed.  As this mission continues to develop, we expect other medical personnel will be called upon to support this mission in the coming weeks.

I encourage you to keep our fellow medical colleagues in mind and remember the sacrifices and contributions they make every day. As we enter Labor Day Weekend, we recognize and celebrate the workers of our great Nation.  Our military, civilian, and contractor team works hard to support mission success, so if you’re fortunate enough to take some time off and rest – please do so – and also take time to reflect on and appreciate the efforts of those who have the watch.  We currently have shipmates deployed to support Operation Afghan Rescue, the earthquake response in Haiti, COVID-19 relief at stateside hospitals, and in service with Fleet or Marine Corps.  The One Navy Medicine team continues to answer all bells and do it in a superb manner. Well done shipmates!

With my deepest respect, SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG’s Message – Caring For Ourselves While We Care for Others

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Esteemed Navy Medicine Shipmates, I’m using this All Hands message to share my thoughts while events continue to unfold around the world and to bring you up to speed on what we are doing to support our fellow citizens, our trusted partners in Afghanistan and the beleaguered citizens of Haiti.

For the past two decades we have answered our Nation’s call and deployed forward to support our Sailors, Marines, and coalition partners in Afghanistan.  Many of you have served boots on the ground in this long war as Individual Augmentees, on patrol with your Marines and Sailors, and embedded with Role 2 and 3 facilities in theater.   During this 20 year period, you as members of Navy Medicine did incredible, heroic work.   Those who served on the ground and those who supported our deployed members should be deeply proud of what you accomplished.  You excelled in roles augmenting local forces and national government officials as advisors and mentors.  You kept our Marines, fellow Sailors and Coalition forces safe by being the Doc, ensuring the care and well-being of your units.  Your preventive care and steady presence was paramount and when a casualty occurred you were ready.   From the front lines a casualty had a 97% survivability rate; such success is unprecedented and highlights your incredible efforts.  As the war changed, you adapted and persevered.  What we learned in trauma care we applied in preparation for future conflict and shared with our civilian counterparts.  These lessons help save lives on the battlefield and in our local communities every day.   

As the United States departs Afghanistan, Navy Medicine professionals will continue to support our troops and assist with the medical evaluations for Afghan nationals who worked alongside us and who are now seeking asylum.  I am proud of our continued service and commitment to our warfighters and our efforts to help many of our friends start anew. 

I also understand the wide range of feelings many of us are experiencing as we leave a country we have supported for decades, as we watch events unfold, and as we inevitably contemplate the sacrifice so many have made. A strong, potentially painful emotional reaction is to be expected. None of us need experience these thoughts alone. I encourage everyone to talk with your shipmates, family, and friends about your views and how you are coping with current events.  Reach out and build on the skills we have been refining in our Enduring Conversations. If you feel that you would benefit from professional assistance in working through your emotions do not hesitate to send up a flare. Any member of the Navy Medicine family can get you the help you need… just say the word.  There is no “wrong door” in Navy Medicine. We have counselors, chaplains, and mental health professionals who can help you become more resilient and foster strength when you need it the most. One of our key strengths is the ability to care for each other. Make sure you check on those you served with and above all take care of yourself.

We are also assisting with the international relief effort to help the people of Haiti after a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the country this past week.  On Tuesday, a Fleet Surgical Team departed aboard USS ARLINGTON (LPD 24) and we are also sending a Forward Deployable Preventive Medicine Unit (FDPMU) to provide additional relief in support of U.S. Southern Command Joint Task Force-Haiti.

Navy Medicine is also here for our fellow American citizens. This week we deployed a 23 person Medical Response Team (MRT) to Lafayette Louisiana to integrate with and supplement local hospital staff who are battling a COVID resurgence that is ravaging mainly those who remain unvaccinated.  MRTs are the next iteration of frontline COVID-relief, and a hybrid of our Acute Care Team and Rapid Rural Response Teams that proved so vital earlier in this pandemic.  We will likely send more MRTs out to help our fellow Americans in the weeks ahead. Check out this video of the welcome the team received. I think you’ll be as inspired as I was:

One team, one fight.  Thank you for what you do every day to protect our nation.

With my continued respect and admiration, SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA
RADM, MC, USN
Surgeon General, U.S. Navy
Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery