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With passing of colors, new senior enlisted advisor assumes duties at DHA

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Luciano receives the Defense Superior Service Medal at the Defense Health Agency's Change of Responsibility ceremony. (MHS photo) Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Luciano receives the Defense Superior Service Medal at the Defense Health Agency's Change of Responsibility ceremony. (MHS photo)

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Defense Health Agency

In a ceremony incorporating symbolism and tradition, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Luciano transferred his duties as senior enlisted advisor in the Defense Health Agency to Navy Command Master Chief Charles “Chip” Collins on Monday at Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.

Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency, thanked Luciano for his service and said she was grateful “he was willing to come and take on a new adventure. He brought people together to advance the mission of the DHA.”

She also said she’s looking forward to working with Collins. “Taking care of our people is an important legacy,” she said. “Our strongest accomplishments in the Military Health System occur when we find ways to work together to create a system that our beneficiaries so richly deserve.”

Luciano is retiring after serving in the military for more than 35 years. He said it has been an honor and a privilege to fill the role of senior enlisted advisor, and he hadn’t hesitated when Bono called him and asked him to take the position.

“I speak Army well,” Luciano said. “I’ve learned to speak joint,” he added, referring to working with all of the services and with DoD civilians.

Luciano played a key role in preparing for the centralized administration of military treatment facilities under the authority, direction, and control of the DHA. Several MTFs transitioned on Oct. 1, marking the beginning of Military Health System transformation.

Luciano said he’s confident Collins will be an effective leader for the “heavy lifting” required to complete the transformation.

“I’ve taken it as far as I can go, and I have no doubt he will go even further,” Luciano said.

Collins, the incoming advisor, began his 32-year military career as a Navy corpsman and then a pharmacy technician. He said his work with the other services as well as civilian teammates and partner nations have given him a unique perspective on how the Department of Defense operates as a whole.

“The headlines are frequently about the kinetic actions, but nothing happens without the people, the support infrastructure, and our families supporting us,” he said.

Collins also said he’s been doing a deep dive into what has already been accomplished as well as the challenges ahead.

“I am both impressed and humbled by the achievements and future of the organization,” Collins said. “The diligence, the perseverance, the attitude, and the optimism of what is happening here inspires me.  Over the next three years, I will do my utmost to support your efforts, to be your strongest advocate, and to operate at the limits of my authorities to help you accomplish our mission.”

Collins also said he expects to be held accountable.  “My door is always open, and I am here to serve.”

Earlier, Collins said he likes challenges, “especially if I’m passionate about the mission. I’m just incredibly excited about being here and seeing what I can do to maybe get a little bit more steam pressure going, to get folks all rolling in the same direction.”

Collins said he’s eager to “get the MTF transition across the finish line and deliver a product that’s going to be resilient and stand the test of time.”

“We have an opportunity to take what resources we have available to us and build them into not just a service-centric or DoD centric program, but a worldwide, executive-level care program,” Collins said.  “The onus is on us not only to reassure our beneficiaries that’s going to happen, but to demonstrate to them that that’s going to happen.”

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