By Bernard S. Little
“Leadership is not a right, [but] a privilege,” Faison continued. “Leaders don’t sit on mountaintops and think great thoughts; they’re down among the people who know what’s going on, doing what they need to do to get the job done today, and challenging them with the job for tomorrow,” he added.
Much of the surgeon general's discussion with the WRNMMC staff concerned the importance of readiness for those in military medicine. He explained that not only doctors and nurses must be ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice, but corpsmen and medics must also have the training and skills to treat patients in diverse and challenging conditions with limited resources because they will be the ones who provide the first care to those injured on the battlefield.
Faison added that he was also at Walter Reed Bethesda to thank the staff for what they do every day in taking care of the nation’s heroes and their families. “You do amazing work every single day,” he said.
The Navy SG also praised the “unprecedented” survival rate of more than 90 percent of those injured on the battlefield during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. “This is even more remarkable when you consider where [organized] military medicine got its start during the [Civil War’s] Battle of Antietam. Losses on both sides were heavy during that battle, he pointed out. Union forces had more than 12,400 casualties with over 2,100 dead, and Confederate casualties numbered more than 10,300 with over 1,500 dead. This represented 25 percent of the Union force and 31 percent of the Confederate, according to official records of the U.S. War Department.
Faison said that while the battlefield survival rate remains unprecedented and those in military medicine continue to protect, maintain and restore the health of service members, their families and other beneficiaries of the Military Health System, some people continue to question the need for a military health-care system. He explained some of this uncertainty can be attributed to the fact that “less than 1 percent of our nation population has served in uniform, [and] only one out of every five lawmakers who serve on Capitol Hill has served in uniform. "They tend to look at us through a lens of peacetime health-care efficiency.”