Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

New Flag and Patch Symbolize Growth at the Defense Health Agency

Service members from the Army, Air Force and Navy display the new Defense Health Agency patch following a reflagging and repatching ceremony at Defense Health Agency Headquarters in Falls Church. Service members from the Army, Air Force and Navy display the new Defense Health Agency patch following a reflagging and repatching ceremony at Defense Health Agency Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia, Aug. 20, 2021. The military tradition of unit and service patches dates to the Civil War and serves as an important symbol of affiliation and pride for members of a unit, service, or organization. The new patch symbolizes the growth and maturity of the agency and the unity of the Defense Health Agency team. (MHS photo by Jaime Chirinos)

Recommended Content:

Defense Health Agency | Military Health System Transformation | Combat Support

The Defense Health Agency is unveiling a new organizational flag and seal along with a new patch to be worn by service members assigned to its joint medical billets.

The new symbols are emblematic of the agency’s transformation and the operational role it plays in providing health care to military members and their families across the force and the life-saving medical support for troops deployed overseas.

“The reflagging symbolizes the growth and maturity of our organization,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, the DHA’s senior enlisted leader. 

“It represents the purpose of DHA, which is to generate a medically ready force by providing high-quality health care to our population with a medically competent staff.”

All service members who are assigned to the DHA, regardless of their service affiliation, will wear the DHA patch “to signify the oneness of the agency,” said Gragg.

“It doesn’t matter what service you come from – you will still identify with your service on your left chest – but you will also have an organizational patch on your arm to signify that you belong to this family as well and that you have dual citizenship.”

The new flag, seal and patch will be formally revealed during a ceremony at the DHA headquarters in Virginia, Aug. 20. Watch the ceremony

The unveiling comes as the DHA is completing a congressionally mandated transition to begin overseeing military treatment facilities (MTFs) around the world, which were traditionally managed by the individual services.

At the same time, the DHA is standing up regional markets that will streamline care for beneficiaries by providing greater access to doctors, hospitals, and clinics across the military regardless of the patient’s service affiliation. 

Gragg recalled that when he joined DHA in June of 2020, he felt the organization lacked a traditional military culture. He explained how today’s DHA grew into an operational agency from its origins as the TRICARE Management Agency, which administered military health benefits but did not oversee any military health facilities or health care professionals.

The new Defense Health Agency flag and seal was unveiled at a ceremony on Aug. 20
The new Defense Health Agency flag and seal was unveiled at a ceremony on Aug. 20. (MHS photo)

“The DHA is a military organization that did not realize it was a military organization,” he said. “The overarching DNA of the agency was that of a civilian, business-like agency that was in charge of a benefits plan.”

“We needed to reinforce that we are not a civilian organization doing business – we are a military organization that is in the fight,” he said. 

Since DHA was built from elements of the different service departments, the new flag, seal and patch will help unify the agency as it builds a cohesive culture, he said.

“We needed to act like, look like, and have the traditions of a military organization so that our people can see themselves in us and also realize what we’re here to do,” he said.

The organizational change stems from Section 702 of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which directed DHA to assume responsibility for the administration and management of health care delivery at all MTFs, calling for the establishment of high-performance military-civilian integrated health delivery systems. It’s been a phased, market-based transition that began several years ago.

“It gave us the roles and responsibilities of being a combat support agency and managing the MTFs, but also the elements of public health, research and development, and training of all the medical personnel who go into the Department of Defense,” said Gragg.

He explained he wants “the people inside the agency to realize what we are here to do: We are in support of the National Defense Strategy, and we do that by providing world-class health care.”

Gragg added that the DHA is comprised of “medically ready, medically competent personnel, outside the continental United States and within it, ensuring that our fighting men and women are able to receive the best care whenever they need it, wherever they are.”

Historically, flags have been used as symbols to identify their bearers’ affiliation, particularly in wartime environments where communication is a challenge.

“The flag has been the rallying call to get people on the battlefield moving in the same direction, to understand where the battle lines were,” said Gragg. “This flag does all that, but additionally, signifies the maturity of DHA’s mission, vision, and purpose.”

Like flags, the use of military patches dates to the 1800s, when British military officers wore them to distinguish their rank. In the United States, they were first worn informally by soldiers during the Civil War, and became more common as of World War I.

Meaning of the Flag and Patch

The elements of the new DHA flag and seal were selected to symbolize the unity of individual services’ medical expertise under one umbrella. According to the Department of the Army’s Institute of Heraldry, in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, the symbolism of each element is as follows:

  • The globe represents the health services that DHA provides for U.S. military men, women, and their families around the world.
  • The gold rope and grid lines represent Navy Medicine and its requirement to provide “medical power for naval superiority.”
  • The blue on the shield represents Air Force Medicine and pays tribute to their ability to rapidly reach and render “trusted care, anywhere.”
  • The maroon on the shield represents Army Medicine and its commitment “to conserve the fighting strength.”
  • The eight white stars represent the eight entities served by the Defense Health Agency.
  • The staff of Asclepius is a symbol traditionally associated with military medical units.
  • The motto, “PRO CURA MILITIS,” translates to “the care of the warrior.”

You also may be interested in...

Defense Health Agency Formally Establishes Low Country Medical Market

Article
9/3/2021
Military personnel uncasing the DHA Low Country Market colors

The Low Country Market was introduced Sept. 2 in an establishment ceremony hosted by the Defense Health Agency (DHA) and Winn Army Community Hospital.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Market Structure

DOD launches "First Aid For Severe Trauma" for HS students

Article
9/2/2021
High school students at a conference in Orlando, Florida

DOD's National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health launches "First Aid For Severe Trauma" designed for Grades 9-12, with Red Cross, Homeland Security.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support

TCCC ASM Student Registration v2

Form/Template
8/17/2021

Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute (DMRTI) TC3 ASM Course Manager Student Enrollment Form

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute | Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course (TCCC)

Reform, COVID-19 Have Been Catalysts for Change in Military Medicine

Article
8/16/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim speaking to an audience at a conference

Healthcare is about taking care of people, so no amount of change or innovation is ever sufficient if modernization does not lead to helping patients, says acting ASDHA at HIMSS21 in Las Vegas.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Military Health System Transformation

DOD's Whole of Government Approach to COVID is Working, Says Adirim

Article
8/13/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim, acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, right, speaks during a panel discussion.

Dr. Terry Adirim, said she has been impressed by the DOD’s COVID-19 response since taking over as ASDHA, and that adaptation and innovation have played key parts in that response.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Technology | Telehealth Program | Military Health System Transformation

Puget Sound Military Health System Certified by Defense Health Agency

Article
8/6/2021
Photo of a shuttle bus

The Puget Sound market leaders are responsible for managing all health care for its military population within Western Washington.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation

MHS Minute - July 2021

Video
8/2/2021
Infographic for MHS Minute

The Defense Health Agency continues to establish new health care markets across the U.S. Markets are designed to increase access to care for beneficiaries and improve coordination, standardization, and best practices across the MHS. Watch this month's MHS Minute to learn more!

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation

New Markets, MHS Transformation and You: What Does it All Mean?

Article
7/27/2021
Team members of the Fort Belvoir Community prepare for the start of a new day

With ten new markets launching, U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Tracy Farrill, talks about what this means for beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Direct Reporting Markets | Market Structure

San Antonio Market to Standardize, Optimize Local Healthcare

Article
7/19/2021
Military personnel unveiling flags

The Defense Health Agency’s San Antonio Market is the seventh market to stand up over the past year, and is designed to standardize, optimize local healthcare.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Market Structure

DHA, NATO Collaborate to Achieve Military Medical Interoperability

Article
7/12/2021
Military personnel looking at a laptop screen

DHA collaborated with NATO and partner organizations for CWIX 2021 held in Poland, 7-25 June.

Recommended Content:

Defense Health Agency

New Stop the Bleed course designed specifically for HS students

Article
7/7/2021
A medical care training exercise

New First Aid for Severe Trauma Training Can Help High School Students ‘Stop the Bleed’

Recommended Content:

Combat Support

Military Health System Transformation Will Improve Care & Innovation

Article
7/6/2021
Infographic about Health Innovation Month

MHS Innovation Must Be Backed by Best Practices, Standardization

Recommended Content:

July Toolkit | Health Innovation – Pathways to Ready Reliable Care | Health Innovations across the MHS Enterprise | Health Innovation Month | Research and Innovation | Military Health System Transformation | MHS Research Symposium

Changes ahead for BJACH with DHA Market Transition

Article
7/1/2021
Two generals shake hands

DHA was established in 2013 to provide a host of shared health services across the MHS and BJACH will transition within the next 30 days

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Small Market and Stand Alone MTF Organizations

DHA Spearheads Effort for Working Dog Research Collaboration

Article
6/25/2021
Picture of three different dogs

Working Dog Forum explored research to keep dogs in top form.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Veterinary Service | Public Health | Research and Innovation

Medical Advances Since Gulf War Boil Down to Increased Lives Saved

Article
6/25/2021
Medical personnel training on how to treat a neck wound

Not all medical advances since the first Gulf War are highly technical.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Research and Innovation | Health Innovation Month
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 16

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.