Surgeon General

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

SG’s Message – Thanksgiving in June? You Bet!

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Esteemed Shipmates:

As we begin our journey back to a level of normalcy, I want to say thank you.  Those who have deployed to support our fellow Americans, both on the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy, and those integrated with civilian hospitals across this country. Thank you to everyone who kept our MTFs running and our training commands training.  I recently visited the Hospital Corps School in San Antonio, TX and the Medical Education and Training Campus has trained throughout the pandemic, ensuring our ranks are replenished with highly qualified Hospital Corpsmen.

On June 17th, the Hospital Corps celebrates its 123rd year.  To FORCM Roberts and our 26,000+ HMs, thank you for your dedication and selfless service.  Throughout this pandemic, our Hospital Corpsmen have been shining examples of resilience, and exemplars  of the high reliability behaviors we cherish.  The future of our Corps is in great hands and continues to model our proud history and traditions that we honor each year.

Thank you to those who continue to support the Fleet and Fleet Marine Force.  As of today, we have had only two ships, out of hundreds, that have adjusted operations for a period of time, and Marine Corps operations have continued without interruption throughout the pandemic.  Thank you to those who deployed in support of the DSCA mission, providing vaccination support at FEMA Community Vaccination Centers across the country.  Our Department of the Navy teams have given 1.4 million vaccinations, with DOD collectively administering nearly 5 million doses.  I had the opportunity to visit several vaccination sites and a few RRRTs in action and witnessed first-hand, the extreme appreciation from our civilian counterparts and communities.  Our Sailors continue to recognize the value of their services and the rewarding honor to support this global mission.

And finally, thank you to those who have received a vaccination to help end this pandemic.  You are not only protecting yourself, but also your family, your unit, your community and the Navy.  It’s been a long year and a half, but we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not a train).  If you have not received your COVID-19 vaccination, please reconsider your decision and discuss with your local physician to identify the best option for your health and safety.   Our people are our top priority and most valuable resource. Let’s do everything possible to protect each other. 

Take care, be strong and continue to project medical power!

V/r,

SG

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA

RADM, MC, USN

Surgeon General, U.S. Navy

Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

SG Book List and Talks with Authors Compilation

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View all of Dr. Gillingham’s book talks at his new YouTube playlist. Interviews by the Surgeon General with authors on his professional reading list – https://www.youtube.com/playlist…

U.S. Navy Surgeon General, Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, announced the launching of his professional reading list in a video released in February 2020. “The reading list is comprised of books that have helped shape my perspective as I have developed as a doctor, naval officer, and leader over the course of three decades of service,” said Gillingham. The 37 titles are organized by Navy Medicine’s four priorities—People, Platforms, Performance and Power. Each book was selected to strengthen understanding of these priorities while fostering the skillsets and thinking needed in today’s Navy Medicine. The books cover a wide-spectrum of topics—from management and leadership to history and biography to philosophy and medicine. Although intended for all personnel serving across Navy Medicine, Gillingham explained that the reading list should be considered “a suggested guidepost for independent study” rather than a formal requirement or an “end all to learning.”

See his complete list of books at https://www.med.navy.mil/Pages/SG-Reading-List.aspx or https://archive.org/details/sg-professional-reading-list.

SG’s Conversations with Authors – “On Call in Hell: A Doctor’s Iraq War Story” by CDR(r) Richard Jadick – Tomorrow!

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On Tuesday, 8 June 2021 at 1200 Eastern the Surgeon General of the Navy will be speaking with CDR (ret.) Richard Jadick on Facebook Live as part of the “Conversations with the Authors” Series.   The topic of conversation will be  Dr. Jadick’s book On Call in Hell: A Doctor’s Iraq War Story.   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:

https://www.facebook.com/USNavyMedicine/

A flyer about this event is attached and hope you can all attend:

Memorial Day Messages from ASD(HA), DHA, and the SG

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Here are all the Memorial Day messages from our senior leadership:

Assistant SECDEF for Health Affairs

Teammates,

This Memorial Day weekend represents both sadness and hope. We recognize the service of our fallen heroes, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. This solemn remembrance comes on the heels of another type of war, the fight against COVID-19, which has taken the lives of service members and millions of others. Thankfully, we have made incredible progress against COVID-19, and much of the nation is beginning to return to normal.

That return to all the activities and events we have put on hold for so long comes with great risk if we don’t continue to exercise good judgement and keep safety top-of-mind.  For that reason, I ask that you be mindful of your actions and take appropriate safety measures to protect yourselves and your loved ones from injury, illness and COVID-19. If you have teammates who may be alone or feeling isolated, please reach out to them, and make sure they’re taking care of themselves.

I know the last fifteen months have been trying and difficult for all of us. It’s why the vaccination campaign has been so important. It will save more lives and protect us, our friends, and family against hospitalization and death. It has enabled us to get back to normal. So, please consider getting vaccinated if you haven’t yet. They are widely available, they are safe, and as a doctor, I have the utmost confidence in each of the vaccines.

Thank you again for all your hard work, for helping the Military Health System fulfill its mission, for protecting our Department and our nation against COVID-19, and for ensuring we all have a bit less to mourn and remember.

I hope you all have a safe, restful and reflective Memorial Day.

Thank you,

Terry

Terry Adirim, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense – Health Affairs Department of Defense

Surgeon General

Esteemed Shipmates,

This weekend, our nation pauses to remember all military personnel who have died while serving our Armed Forces.  Their sacrifice is a true testament of selflessness.  Before embarking on this long holiday weekend, let us reflect on why Monday is a federal holiday and a day off for many of us.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac captures how and why we as a nation celebrate Memorial Day:

“The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day-or Decoration Day, as it was first known-is unclear.  In early rural America, this duty was performed usually in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics.  After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation.  After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.”

As we pause and give thanks to those who have gone before us, and gave their life to support the cause of freedom that we enjoy today, I am excited to share that Navy Medicine reached a significant milestone this past Tuesday when NMRTC Camp Lejeune administered the one-millionth vaccine across our Navy and Marine Corps sites.  This milestone demonstrates the hard work, resilience, and dedication of our One Navy Medicine Team.  Since the start of vaccination operations, more than 60% of Naval personnel have received at least one dose and more than 50% tare fully immunized.  Thank you for rolling up your sleeve and contributing to our defense against this virus.

COVID continues to be a force readiness issue and there is no better protection for our people, their families, or communities than getting vaccinated.  For those that have not vaccinated, I ask that you pause and reflect on the dedication of those who have come before us and then reconsider your reservations. Rededicating yourself to the health and protection of yourself and those you serve with is one great way to honor their sacrifice. In the words of President John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Thank you for all you continue to do to take care of our Sailors, Marines, and their families.  I am humbled and honored to work with you, the incredible Navy Medicine professionals who ensure our warfighters are ready, healthy, and mission-ready.

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

Defense Health Agency

Video:

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/796366/dha-memorial-day-message

Message:

Teammates:

The freedoms we enjoy in this country were not given but earned – generation after generation – through the courage of many Americans who took great risks, who fought for a cause in which they believed, who put service above self. As a nation, we ask our men and women in uniform to be prepared to make these sacrifices every day.  Sometimes, that sacrifice is borne by a family in mourning, creating an irreplaceable void in lives, and acknowledged by a carefully folded flag handed down with reverence. This coming Monday is Memorial Day, a time set aside to honor and remember those military members who gave what Abraham Lincoln described as “their last full measure of devotion.”

To the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones, thank you.  Many of us will all be setting aside time this weekend, thinking of you, and praying for you. To our medical professionals who have been there to witness service members take their last breath, thank you for being there and giving your all.

This Memorial Day weekend is accompanied by signs of hope and recovery from the pandemic that has changed our lives. As we get vaccinated, we’re looking forward to family gatherings, sporting events, vacations, and other freedoms some of us previously took for granted. We have a range of emotions, including a little worry and perhaps a lot of excitement! 

It’s important that we don’t forget the fundamentals as we venture outside. Stay hydrated, use sunblock, remember common-sense safety tips in the water activities, and be mindful of the potential dangers of alcohol. If you’re jumping in the car, make sure it’s service is up to date, and pay extra attention to the other drivers who might not be paying attention to you. This is the time of year when motorcycles are out in force and most fatal motorcycle accidents happen because motorists don’t see them. The DHA is kicking off our summer safety campaign and there are many resources to help you have a safe and happy summer. To see some of the summer safety resources, visit https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Total-Force-Fitness/Environmental-Fitness/Summer-Safety .

And while we can see a future where the pandemic is officially declared over, we aren’t there yet. The best protection is vaccination. But, depending on your location and vaccination status, modified masking and physical distancing guidance still apply. Let’s stay on track to defeat COVID.

I wish all of you a safe and peaceful Memorial Day.

rjp

Ronald J. Place, MD

LTG, US Army

Director, Defense Health Agency