Skip to main content

Military Health System

Important Notice about Pharmacy Operations

Change Healthcare Cyberattack Impact on MHS Pharmacy Operations. Read the statement to learn more. 

New Flag and Patch Symbolize Growth at the Defense Health Agency

Image of 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)

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 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...

Article
Oct 12, 2023

DHA Launches 9 Defense Health Networks to Improve Health Care Delivery to Joint Force

DHA Launches 9 Defense Health Networks to Improve Health Care Delivery to Joint Force

“The Military Health System is changing … changing how we organize to counter threats that surround us, how we deliver care on the battlefield or at home, and how we leverage the tools and technologies of this digital age to better service our patients,” said Defense Health Agency Director U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland in a recent message to ...

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.

Video
Jul 31, 2023

DHA Minute | July 2023

DHA Minute | July 2023

This month’s DHA Minute highlights the release of the FY23-28 DHA Strategic Plan. Learn more and download a copy here: https://health.mil/About-MHS/OASDHA/Defense-Health-Agency/DHA-Strategic-Plan

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