Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed my nomination as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. The time I have spent in the principal deputy position has given me valuable perspective on the unique role the Military Health System (MHS) plays in national security and in American medicine. I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve in the ASD role and alongside such a talented team that makes up the MHS.
As I told the Senate Armed Services Committee last November, it will be a great privilege to lead the MHS during this period of unprecedented transformative change. With readiness of our service members as our first priority, we are implementing a historic transition in how we manage our Military Treatment Facilities. We are also conducting comprehensive reviews of the Direct Care System to enhance MTF operations as training platforms to support medical readiness, and identifying the optimal military medical manpower requirements to meet operational requirements. As you know, we continue the deployment of a truly modern electronic health record that will support the provision of integrated, standardized care across the MHS enterprise. Next month, MHS GENESIS will go live at Travis AFB, Mountain Home AFB, NAS Lemoore, and the Presidio at Monterey. This next deployment has been informed by the hard work of the teams at Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor, Naval Hospital Bremerton and Madigan Army Medical Center during the Initial Operating Capability (IOC) rollout. Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit COL Thomas Bundt, Commander, Madigan Army Medical Center (MAMC), and his team. Their passionate embrace of the opportunity to be one of the IOC sites has paid off for the entire enterprise. Their contributions to our strategy for future deployment – informed by their lessons learned on the ground – has positioned us for a successful next phase of MHS GENESIS implementation. Thank you, COL Bundt and the entire MAMC team.
In addition to the major reform efforts underway, our day-to-day successes continue to support the Department’s priorities. Earlier this week, I joined the more than 3,000 researchers and scientists from across the Department, interagency, industry, academia, and partner nations at the annual Military Health System Research Symposium (MHSRS).
I spoke to participants about the critical role of military medical research and development in advancing the MHS’s integrated system of readiness and health. From strengthening Traumatic Brain Injury clinical and research capabilities, addressing mental and behavioral health issues among injured service members, vaccines and countermeasures for infectious diseases, to the developments in medical technologies to advance enroute patient care, the MHS’s research and development initiatives enable the U.S. military to remain at the forefront to protect and defend the U.S. homeland and the shared interests of our allies and partners. I encourage you to review the innovative findings coming out of this year’s conference at www.health.mil/mhsrs.
I had the pleasure to recognize a number of MHSRS award winners – awardees like CDR Ian Valerio, who has made pivotal contributions to research on preemptive treatments for phantom and residual limb pain; and the Zika Purified Inactivated Virus WRAIR team, who helped develop a Zika vaccine candidate for clinical trial; and Dr. Amy Adler, whose research in military behavioral health has led to improved outcomes in health, resilience, and performance of service members. It is abundantly clear how the MHS’s commitment to innovation and partnerships is yielding new technologies, processes, and services that help ensure a more prepared, stronger and more resilient force.
A big thank you to Dr. Terry Rauch and the Health Affairs team, RADM Mary Riggs and the R&D team at DHA, Dr. Richard Thomas and his team at USUHS, the Services, and the thousands of scientists and researchers across the MHS who contributed to MHSRS. Thank you for your continued work in advancing the incredibly important mission we are privileged to carry out.