Skip main navigation

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

Deputy defense secretary stresses team approach in battling COVID

Image of Soldier wearing mask, standing at computer monitors in an office building. Army Maj. Nicholas Gauvin works inside Operation Warp Speed headquarters in Washington, D.C., last month. (Photo by EJ Hersom, DOD.)

Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist emphasized a years-long reform of the Military Health System while praising the short-term effort of private industry, other government agencies, and the MHS working together toward a COVID-19 vaccine goal in his speech this week at the virtual 2020 annual meeting of AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals.

In his address, “The National Defense Strategy in 2020,” Norquist said while the general news of the COVID-19 vaccines in development and testing have been in the news for the past month or so, what we’re really seeing has been ongoing for 2020 — and even well before.

Norquist said that careful planning, correct execution, and making sure the vaccines are safe, effective, and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards are crucial, whether in another pandemic or a different crisis.

Early on, leaders need to say, “what do we need to be as the end solution, not just the response to today, and how do I put in place a team to do that?” Norquist said.

Focusing solely on that long-term solution is what MHS has done with the Department of Health and Human Services and Operation Warp Speed, he emphasized.

Image of Deputy Secretary Norquist Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist praised the operation during his speech to the 2020 Annual Meeting of AMSUS. (Photo by EJ Hersom, DOD.)

The Military Health System has played an important role implementing the National Defense Strategy, Norquist said. By undertaking critical reforms, the MHS is working on fulfilling the strategy’s first line of effort: to build a more lethal and ready force.

The MHS is one of the largest DOD programs, with a budget of more than $50 billion each year, and “warrants extra attention,” Norquist said.

In 2017, Congress directed the largest health care system reform in over a generation, recognizing the need to reform the military medical force and military medical treatment facilities.

“We need personnel with the right specialties to treat patients on and off the battlefield,” Norquist said. “Congress recognized that we were short on critical wartime specialties. Many of our military medical personnel provide services that are similar to the private sector. But we have fewer prepared to meet warfighter needs. As a result, Congress mandated DOD to rethink how we organize, train, and equip our medical force.

“Our goal is to achieve and sustain an appropriate specialty mix,” Norquist added. “While beneficiary care will always be important, Congress recognized the DOD needs to lead in the area it knows best. This change will save lives. The second major change concerns our [military medical treatment facilities]. This reform is related to the first, and it addresses efficiency in one of the largest cost drivers of the Military Health System. Congress directed us to transfer control of [military medical treatment facilities] from the services to the Defense Health Agency.”

Consolidating beneficiary care to the Defense Health Agency and focusing the service surgeons general on readiness removes risk, Norquist said, and leads to greater efficiencies and lower costs.

“Of course, I’d be remiss if I did not mention our progress on Operation Warp Speed, a joint effort with HHS to deliver safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics in record time,” he added.

“Operation Warp Speed will enable immediate large-scale delivery of millions of doses, something only possible because production is already ongoing,” Norquist said, underscoring military readiness well before the vaccines were fully developed.

You also may be interested in...

Article Around MHS
May 8, 2024

A First: Navy Medicine Tests Treatment Protocols in the Artic

military personnel at Operation Ice Camp 2024

Operating in extreme artic temperatures can be extremely challenging. Performing tactical combat casualty care treatment even more difficult as casualties, donned with large amounts of clothing layers, can make wound assessment and applying medical care problematic. Operation Ice Camp 2024 is an operation that allows the U.S. Navy to assess its ...

Article Around MHS
Feb 23, 2024

Medical Soldiers Compete in the Medical Readiness Command Europe 2024 Best Leader Competition

The 2nd Place of the 2024 Medical Readiness Command, Europe Best Leader Competition, held Feb 6-9 at Baumholder Training Area, Germany, are pictured with U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Roger Giraud, commander of Medical Readiness Command, Europe. The grueling four-day competition was rigorous, relevant, and realistic. Activities included a physical fitness assessment, M4 and M17 weapons zero and qualification, and a 12-mile foot march. (Photo by Kirk Frady)

More than 30 medical soldiers from across Europe competed in the 2024 Medical Readiness Command, Europe Best Leader competition, Feb. 6-9, at Baumholder Training Area in Germany. Teams from each of Medical Readiness Command, Europe’s four direct reporting units competed for a chance to represent the command at the 2024 U.S. Army Medical Command Best ...

Article Around MHS
Feb 20, 2024

Forward Deployable Preventative Medical Unit Enhances Combat Effectiveness with Comprehensive Weapons and Threat Recognition Training

Forward Deployable Preventative Medical Unit Six member trains in weapons proficiency during a specialized course designed to enhance readiness for diverse deployments on Feb. 8, 2024. The training was tailored for the unit’s unique mission to ensure service members are prepared for their upcoming deployments. (U.S. Navy photo by Desmond Martin)

The Forward Deployable Preventative Medical Unit participated in a first-ever weapons and threat recognition training course, specifically designed and tailored for the unit’s unique mission. FDPMU’s are rapidly deployable and mobile units that support force health protection around the globe.

Article Around MHS
Jan 16, 2024

Yokota Sustains 24/7 Air Medical Transport

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeovany Vasquez, 374th Operational Support Squadron, UH-1N Huey instructor flight engineer surveys a landing zone during a patient transport drill. (Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Manuel G. Zamora)

The 459th Airlift Squadron performed a trial run of a new readiness posture for medical transport on Dec. 18, aiming to offer 24/7 airlift support, streamlining the patient transfers from the 374th Medical Group at Yokota Air Base, Japan, to other medical facilities in the region.

Article Around MHS
Jan 12, 2024

What Care at Sea Looks Like

U.S. Navy Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Louis Mountain receives his flu shot from U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Stevie Shavers, from Ravenswood, W.Va., aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, on Oct. 27, 2023. A ship’s medical department is vital to keeping the entire crew healthy and safe during deployments. (Photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jahred Johnson)

A ship’s medical department is a complicated, interwoven group of people with different responsibilities dedicated to the health and well-being of the crew. Ranging from the ship’s nurse to the enlisted corpsman, everyone has a purpose and a mission to complete.

Article Around MHS
Sep 15, 2023

Health Affairs Secretary Visits San Diego Facilities Discusses Importance of Readiness Quality Health Care

SAN DIEGO (Sept. 14, 2023) Dr. Lester Martinez-Lopez, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, is briefed on Naval Medical Center San Diego's (NMCSD) Bioskills and Simulation Training Center's (BSTC) capabilities by Capt. Cory Gaconnet, BSTC department head. The BSTC offers medical students, nurses, interns, residents and hospital clinical staff the opportunity to train in a virtual patient care environment using simulated patients and sophisticated technology. The center contains overhead cameras that tape the medical team's actions, so leaders can provide feedback after the simulated training. The BSTC plays a key role in maintaining patient safety and ensuring the operational readiness of all hospital staff. The mission of NMCSD is to prepare service members to deploy in support of operational forces, deliver high quality health care services and shape the future of military medicine through education, training and research. NMCSD employs more than 6,000 active-duty military personnel, civilians and contractors in southern California to provide patients with world-class care anytime, anywhere.  (Photo: Marcelo Calero)

The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Dr. Lester Martinez-Lopez, visited the Defense Health Agency’s San Diego Market from Sept. 13-14, touring research and medical facilities and meeting with staff to discuss the unique challenges facing Southern California’s medical treatment facilities.

Article Around MHS
Aug 28, 2023

Army Reserve-led Mountain Medic Soars to New Heights

U.S. Army Reserve critical care flight paramedics from 5-159th General Support Aviation Battalion, 244th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, Army Reserve Aviation Command, guide U.S, Air Force Reserve medical personnel from the 302nd Airlift Wing in offloading a casualty from a HH-60 MEDEVAC Black Hawk during exercise Mountain Medic at Fort Carson, Colorado, on Aug. 14, 2023. Mountain Medic is an Army Reserve-led joint, multi-component, multi-domain aeromedical evacuation exercise geared at improving and reenforcing medical evacuation operations in a simulated large-scale combat operations environment. (U.S. Army Reserve Photo by Master Sgt. Joy Dulen)

The third iteration of the fast-paced joint operation known as Mountain Medic 2023 was conducted in August 2023. Against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, the exercise aimed at improving and reinforcing medical evacuation operations and skill sets while pushing its medics, pilots, and aircrews nonstop in austere environments set for large-scale ...

Article Around MHS
Aug 23, 2023

MHSRS 2023 Kicks Off with Powerful Message: Medical Readiness for the Future Fight

Team members from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command's Medical Material Development Activity - Broad Spectrum Snakebite Antidote (BSSA) program, receive the Military Health System Research Symposium 2023 Outstanding Research Accomplishment award in team/program management in Kissimmee, Florida on August 14, 2023.  (Photo: Danae Johnson)

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Lester Martinez-López kicked off the 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium with a keynote speech on the morning of August 14, delivering powerful words to the more than 4,000 people attending the event. Weaving his heartfelt sentiments into an overall call for action, Martinez put the ...

Article Around MHS
Aug 17, 2023

Naval Medical Research & Development Researchers Participate in Undersea Operational Research Panel at MHSRS

Panel presenters for the Undersea Operational Research panel at the 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Medical researchers from the Naval Medical Research & Development (NMR&D) enterprise specializing in undersea health met for a panel during the 2023 Military Health System Research Symposium (MHRSR) on Aug.15.

Article Around MHS
Aug 10, 2023

U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity Logisticians, Reserve Soldiers, Army Logistics Support Capstone Hospital Conversion Effort in Northern California’s High Desert

U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from across the 807th Medical Command inventory newly fielded medical equipment inside a storage warehouse at Sierra Army Depot, California, on July 19, 2023. Members of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, and soldiers with the 807th MCDS began an inventory of medical supplies this week as part of a capstone field hospital conversion mission for eight Army Reserve medical commands belonging to the 801st Combat Support Hospital. (Photo: T. T. Parish/U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, partnering with the Army Reserve’s 807th Medical Command, reached a milestone in its yearslong efforts to support U.S. Army Reserve medical commands last week, starting the final hospital conversion at the Sierra Army Depot in California.

Skip subpage navigation
Refine your search
Last Updated: January 19, 2024
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery