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Navy SG Discusses Priorities During Admiral’s Call at WRNMMC


By Bernard S. Little

WRNMMC Command Communications

“Hope, caring and compassion are the hallmarks of military medicine,” said the U.S. Navy’s top doctor during an Admiral’s Call with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center staff Jan. 30.
Vice Adm. (Dr.) C. Forrest Faison III, Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), added, “Around the world today, men and women are alive and home with family because of the hard work, dedication and sacrifices of those who came before you. You carry on their legacy by wearing [the nation’s] uniforms.” He encouraged those who wear those uniforms to respect the privilege, as well as to honor the privilege of leadership.”

“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.”

This is a narrow scope according to Faison, explaining that those who serve in military medicine must maintain readiness to save lives wherever U.S. forces operate, in addition to providing the best care the nation can offer to service members and their families to keep them healthy, ready and on the job. This requires specialized training, experience and skills, he said.
Faison added that the National Defense Authorization Act demands a more ready and capable force to protect the nation and its interests by doing missions with greater efficiency, centralization, coordination and partnerships. He said military medicine must be ready to get a “well-trained, qualified, prepared force out the door quickly when the balloon goes up.” In addition, he explained that Navy medicine, in conjunction with the Army and Air Force, is leveraging joint opportunities with the Defense Health Agency.
Referring to corpsman and medics as “the most important links to combat survival” since they will provide the initial care to wounded troops on the battlefield, Faison stressed the importance of corpsmen and medics receiving proper training and doing actual patient care at facilities such WRNMMC to enhance medical readiness. “You got to the have the [training, experience and] confidence that you got what it takes to save somebody’s life [on the field or at sea],” he said.
In responding to a Sailor’s question from the audience, Faison explained that improving access and reducing stigma associated with reaching out for help, particularly when it concerns behavioral health care, remain important priorities. He added that mental health providers are being integrated and embedded in primary care settings and units to identify and manage issues, as well as reduce stigma, increase access to care and help detect operational stress reactions and injuries early before they lead to decreased mission capabilities.
Before concluding the Admiral’s Call, Faison recognized Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Moriba Weedor and Hospitalman Logan Thomas on the Walter Reed Bethesda staff.
Weedor is a surgical technician who oversees the Army Phase 2 68D (operating room specialist) program at WRNMMC, a position typically filled by an Army staff sergeant. He precepts approximately 20 students per quarter at the medical center.

Thomas is a biomed tech and test, measurement and diagnostic equipment coordinator at WRNMMC. He spearheads infusion pumps preventive maintenance and corrective actions as dictated by recall procedures from the manufacturer. In January, he performed inspections on more than 408 pumps at Walter Reed Bethesda.