Surgeon General

SG Message: We Are At War – Are You Protecting Your Community?

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Esteemed Shipmates:

This message is for our entire Navy Medicine team, especially those who have concerns about receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.  As your Surgeon General, my first concern is your safety.  I would never allow you to go into a combat zone without flak and Kevlar. By the same token, I am concerned that Navy Medicine personnel are electing to serve on the front lines of the war against COVID every day without the single best protection we have: the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The vaccine is our “biological body armor,”  a safe, highly effective defense against a virus which can cause serious long term disability, even in those minimally symptomatic and, in over 500,000 cases so far, death. Tragically, we have lost seven active duty sailors, (four in the last month) and 53 Department of the Navy civilians thus far. Fortunately, our scientific panel, world class experts in their fields, assure me that the benefits of the vaccine far, far, outweigh possible side effects.

I recognize that receiving a COVID vaccine is voluntary.  Absent a presidential waiver, I cannot make a COVID vaccine either mandatory or a readiness requirement.  The choice is yours, and I ask that you make the best choice for your own health and, importantly, for those around you. Frankly, many have asked “what’s in it for me” noting that even if they get the vaccine they will not see an immediate relaxation of our current public health restrictions. As the adage “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” reminds us, all of us have a small but very important role to play by getting vaccinated. It is estimated that 75% or more of us need to be vaccinated if we are to achieve the community immunity that will allow that return to normalcy. We are each a part of several communities: those of our families, friends, co-workers and the neighborhoods in which we live. Communities depend upon shared, coordinated actions to thrive and reach their “common” vision of happiness. This sometimes requires compromise and sacrifice. The COVID pandemic is one of those times. Please consider the impact of not getting vaccinated on your community. Ignore biased social media, examine the science and reach out to a trusted medical provider to address your reservations. We are truly in this together.

You are an ambassador of Navy Medicine and are on the front lines serving our patients every day.  Sailors, Marines, Civilians and Contractors look to you as the source of medical knowledge and expertise. YOU are the doc they know. Each of us must become an exemplar if we are to defeat this virus. As medical ambassadors, we need to communicate the science and facts about these vaccines to our friends, families, and fellow service members. As I noted above, it is a biological body armor against a virus responsible for killing more than half a million Americans. I encourage our entire enterprise to be engaged in COVID conversations both within and outside our lifelines. If you know someone who has questions about receiving the vaccine, speak to them, make sure they are making an informed choice with accurate information.  If they decide to get the vaccine, ask them to act and get it as soon as possible.  Please share your own experiences, and help educate them on the tremendous benefits these low-risk vaccines provide not only for them, but for their shipmates, their families, and the community at large.

That the vaccines are available now is a triumph of medical research that began more than a decade ago. They are our safest and best weapon against this unrelenting adversary. By simply rolling up your sleeve you can don this amazing biological body armor, make a personal contribution to community immunity and project medical power – what a great return on a small but critically important investment!

We need everyone in Navy Medicine to join their vaccinated arms as we lead from the front in protecting all of the communities in which we live and serve.

With my continued respect and admiration, SG


Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, AOA


Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG Video – Support to Navajo Nation

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Esteemed Colleagues, 

Last week, Force Roberts and I had the honor of traveling to the Navajo Nation to see our Navy Medicine Rapid Rural Response Teams embedded and integrated with local medical facilities in three locations across Arizona and New Mexico.  Our shipmates are doing a superb job supporting the DSCA mission as part of the whole-of-America response to the COVID pandemic.  The Navajo caregiving teams they have joined praise their expertise, their can do spirit and their compassion. During my visit, I also saw first-hand the damage this virus is doing to people’s lives and families.  This disease is deadly.  When Sailors or Marines go into battle, they are armed.  In this war against this vicious and unrelenting adversary in which we are on the front lines, getting vaccinated is our armor and our best offensive weapon.  I recognize that getting the vaccine is an individual decision. If you have not gotten it, please reach out to your trusted medical professional and discuss your concerns so that you are making a fully informed decision. The life you save by becoming vaccinated may not only be your own, but that of your shipmates and those of your family members. 

Please click on one of the links below to watch the video message, and as always, THANK YOU for all you do to project medical power be it for Naval superiority or on behalf of our fellow Americans.

Video Message:

— To watch the video on a Government Computer, click here:

— To watch the video on another electronic device (such as a cell phone or non-YouTube blocked computer), click here:

With my deep gratitude,


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

SG Message – Toward a More Perfect Union

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Esteemed Colleagues:

On the day before he died, in the speech given in support of striking sanitation workers in Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr retold the good Samaritan story. He said that those who refused to stop for the wounded man on the road asked, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” – but the good Samaritan instead asked, “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

Service is the action of helping or doing work for someone. There is no greater honor and no greater reward than service. And today, there is no greater need.

As your Surgeon General, I am honored to serve alongside our selfless Sailors and civilians who are dedicated to be part of something greater than oneself. We serve to protect and defend America and the country’s national interest.

Whenever a Sailor or Marine goes, Navy Medicine is there, ready and engaged. We are there rendering medical aid in austere locations, caring for our shipmates and their families at military hospitals, developing vaccines to protect our forces against disease, and providing humanitarian assistance around the world. Service is the very bloodline of our One Navy Medicine family.

Today, four of our Rapid Rural Response Teams (RRRTs) – comprised of 24 nurses and respiratory technicians – are providing essential medical care to COVID-19 patients from the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico. Our scientists are conducting pioneering research on viral transmission, and at military treatment facilities and alongside Navy piers, we are providing vaccines against a deadly disease to protect the Force and our fellow Americans. These are just a few examples of the thousands of good actions Navy Medicine demonstrates every day.

Dr. King devoted his life to serving others and advancing equality, social justice, and opportunity for all. He challenged Americans to participate in the never-ending work of building a more perfect union. We are living through difficult times – with a global pandemic, social turmoil, economic hardships, and political strife all straining our country. Recognizing that our Nation has yet to reach its full promise is not an admission of defeat, but a call to action. As our Joint Chiefs reminded us this week, American citizens trust us to protect and defend our nation in accordance with the Constitution and I thank you for embracing this responsibility.

I challenge each of us to continue to foster an environment of dignity and respect for everyone. In our Navy, we have individuals from many different cultures, ethnicities, and histories. We must recognize this advantage and include the broadest possible spectrum of people and perspectives. Generating success as a team means going beyond merely understanding the unique perspectives of different people and cultures – understanding is too passive. Achieving top performance is enhanced when we tap into the energy and capability of an actively inclusive team.

As we mark Dr. King’s 92nd birthday this holiday weekend, let us each remember that we have much more to gain from peaceful dialogue, orderly discourse, and civility towards each other. Navy Medicine remains committed to the principles of mutual respect and understanding that Dr. King espoused. Now, perhaps more than ever, they are the cornerstones of the Navy’s Culture of Excellence and an important contribution to our nation’s ongoing effort to create a more perfect union.

With my deepest gratitude, SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, AOA


Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG Conversation with ADM (ret.) Stavridis, 1100 on 15 January 2021

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Good morning all,

I hope this message finds you well today.  And I hope you can assist in spreading word about an event the SG will be having tomorrow that is open to all BUMED personnel.

Tomorrow at 1100 the Surgeon General will be speaking with ADM (ret.) James Stavridis on Facebook Live as part of the “Conversations with the Authors” Series.   The topic of conversation will be  Stavridis’s books “Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character” and “Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans” and their application to Navy Medicine.   As a Facebook Live event this will be open to the Enterprise and we encourage all BUMED personnel to watch on the BUMED Facebook site.

A flyer about the event is here:

A link to the previous installment of the series (Dr. Muhammad Zaman, author of “Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens” can be accessed through the following link:

Thank you.

Very Respectfully,


André B. Sobocinski

Historian/Publications Mgr.

Communications Directorate (M09B7)

Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED)

Throwback Thursday Classic Post – Day 1 Messages from the New SG, RADM Gillingham

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Esteemed Shipmates,

I am honored and privileged to serve as your 39th Surgeon General of the Navy. Attached you will see an outline of my priorities, and the course that we will sail together. Take a moment to review and discuss this information with your Shipmates, reflecting on how YOUR actions contribute to maritime superiority. As a high reliability organization, your active engagement and feedback will be critically important to our continued success. More detailed guidance will be forthcoming. As always, thank you for everything you do for our warfighters and their families.

I look forward to seeing you in the fleet!

SG Sends


Here also is a video from the SG:

RADM Bruce L Gillingham Introduction

SG’s Message – The Power of One Navy Medicine – A Timeless Strength

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Esteemed Navy Medicine Shipmates:

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is a time to give pause and reflect on the attack that – to this day – still represents the greatest tragedy and loss of life ever to befall the Navy.

Seventy-nine years ago, the battleships that had so magnificently represented the might and prestige of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet were destroyed or left too crippled to be of any immediate use. And onboard those ships were young and dedicated Sailors and Marines who would fall victim in that surprise attack.

As we reflect and remember our heroes of the past, there is a connection to what we do today – Navy Medicine steams to assist, serving admirably on the frontlines while projecting Medical Power.


The attack on Pearl Harbor left 2,403 military personnel and civilians dead. The loss of life was greatest aboard the battleship USS Arizona. Forty-nine percent of those killed in the attack (1,177) were crewmembers of this ship. This included a physician, a dentist and 15 hospital corpsmen. The battleship Oklahoma lost 429 crewmembers in the attack including a dentist and five hospital corpsmen.

On the day of the attack, Navy Medicine was represented by active-duty physicians, nurses, dentists, hospital corpsmen, pharmacy-warrant officers, and medical administrators ably assisted by Red Cross nurses.


Naval Hospital Pearl Harbor was one of the best equipped and staffed of the 21 Navy MTFs in operation in 1941. Due to the concentration of naval personnel in Hawaii, additional medical support was provided by USS Solace (AH-5), which lay anchor off “Battleship Row” at Ford Island and Naval Mobile Hospital #2, which was under construction at the time of the attack. The USS Argonne was used as a clearing station to take care of casualties evacuated from ships or rescued from the water. Other platforms like the Naval Air Station and the repair ship USS Vestal operated as casualty receiving stations.


At 0815 that morning, hospital corpsmen-led rescue parties loaded onto small boats to locate survivors from the damaged ships.

Corpsmen from the Solace boarded small boats and steamed into the wreckage of the ArizonaThey braved an inferno as they retrieved several wounded sailors. In the days after the attack, many of these same corpsmen had the grim task of searching for and retrieving the remains of service personnel in the harbor.

Within the first three hours after the attack, Naval Hospital Pearl Harbor received 546 casualties and 313 dead. By the end of the day, the hospital had a patient census of 960 casualties.

The hospital ship Solace received 132 patients (over 70 percent of casualties were burn cases), and Mobile Hospital# 2 received 110 casualties.

Medical personnel aboard all of our platforms worked around the clock treating 2nd and 3rd-degree burns, shock as well as shrapnel and machinegun wounds, lacerations, and compound fractures.

At the naval hospital, a team comprised of a pharmacy-warrant officer, a dentist, and pathologist were tasked with identifying the seemingly unending flow of bodies, most without identification tags and many unable to be identified through fingerprints.


Despite the enormity of the challenges they faced, Navy Medicine personnel performed superbly at Pearl Harbor. Several were later awarded Navy Crosses, Silver Stars and commendations for their efforts. Among them was:

Pharmacist Mate Second Class Ned Curtis of USS Nevada (BB-36) who braved the enemy bombing and strafing attacks to attend to a wounded officer. Curtis transported the officer to safety while incurring severe burns that required extended hospitalization. For his efforts Curtis later received the Navy Cross.

LCDR Hugh Alexander, the senior dentist aboard the USS Oklahoma. As a result of damage caused in the attack, the Oklahoma capsized entrapping Alexander and others in a compartment where portholes provided the only possible means of escape. Despite his knowledge of the desperate situation in which he was placed and with complete disregard for his own safety, Alexander heroically went about the crowded compartment and deliberately selected the more slender of those entrapped and aided them in their escape through these narrow openings. Continuing his intrepid action until the end, Lieutenant Commander Alexander gallantly laid down his life in order that his shipmates might live. Alexander was posthumously awarded the Silver Star in 2018.

I encourage you to take time today to remember our fellow medical warriors who served with honor and distinction at Pearl Harbor. Reflect upon their sacrifices and their contribution to Navy Medicine’s hard won heritage of excellence. A heritage YOU contribute to every day by virtue of your selfless dedication and commitment to high reliability healthcare. Just as we salute our predecessors, those who follow us will salute OUR resolve and success in the face of the present adversity. We are the ONE NAVY MEDICINE team, linked not only arm in arm to overcome our current challenges, but across time with those whose inspiring example has shown us the way ahead.

SG Sends

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA


Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

BUMED Human Capital Management Strategy Plan 2020-2025

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The SG recently signed the subject plan:

Each Corps will be working on a Corps-specific talent management action plan, so there will be more to follow.

SG’s Veteran’s Day Message

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Esteemed Colleagues: 

When I took office as the 39th Surgeon General of the Navy just over a year ago, I saw a great opportunity to increase our focus on the readiness of our Fleet and Marine Force, and ensure we were better aligned to support the National Defense Strategy and direction from the CNO and Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Out of this analysis came my four priorities (“4Ps”) which emphasized the role of our well-trained People operating on optimized Platforms with high velocity and high reliability Performance to project the medical Power that our country needs to maintain Naval Superiority. These 4Ps became our new framework for achieving our mission – a cohesive calling to take our One Navy Medicine team into the future.

We couldn’t have foreseen in the proceeding 365+ days since we established these priorities that our world would be dealing with a global pandemic but your superb response to this challenge has accelerated our transformation to become a stronger, and more medically-ready team focused on quality care for our Sailors, Marines and their families.

Our experiences serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic stateside, OCONUS and at sea has enabled us to be better equipped to mitigate the spread of this pernicious threat and help keep our warfighters safe.   It has also made us more efficient and effective in how we deploy our platforms.  Hope is on the horizon and in the coming weeks we will see Navy Medicine have a key role in supporting vaccine clinical trials and assist with the nationwide distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once it is FDA approved.

During the summer, we embarked on enduring conversations to help strengthen our commitment to core concepts of inclusion and diversity.  These open and honest talks held at all levels of our command shined new light on important issues of racial and gender equality.  As we journey together to foster a culture of excellence, Navy Medicine remains committed to creating an environment of mutual respect where hard work and determination are the key enablers to allow anyone, no matter what their background, to be successful in our military. We must continue to have these important discussions to better understand and support each other, harnessing our unique strengths to accomplish our critically important mission.

Through the many challenges we’ve faced during my first year as your SG, nothing has been more important than to prepare ourselves for the emerging great power competition.  As the Navy and Marine Corps implement the concept of distributed maritime operations, how we provide critical medical support to the warfighter must also adapt.  Navy Medicine must be prepared to ensure we have a ready medical force and the operational medical capabilities to save lives. As we move forward as an organization I ask each of you to reflect on how your efforts produce Navy Medicine’s medical power in support of Naval Superiority.

I am confident that our team of expeditionary medical professionals and the invaluable experts who support them, will be ready for the challenges of the future. We stand on the shoulders of giants confident that we will meet these challenges with the same tenacity, innovation and selfless service that they demonstrated. Like them we will be at our best on the worst days for our Sailors and Marines. Tomorrow we honor the legacy of service by these men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States, through peace and in conflict, in uncertain times and at war.  These are our families, friends, neighbors, and heroes who have answered our Nation’s call.  We thank all who donned the uniform, defended our homeland, and demonstrated the essence of service that provides the liberty we enjoy today.  On this special day, join us in thanking our veterans and their families.  Their sacrifices have defined this Nation.

Finally, to our all of the Marines out there – and all Navy Medicine personnel who are privileged to serve these brave warriors – I wish you a Happy 245th Birthday and a hearty “OORAH!”

SG Sends 

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