Skip to main content

Military Health System

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)

Recommended Content:

Defense Health Agency | Military Health System Transformation | Health Readiness & 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...

RHC-Europe Soldiers compete for Army Best Medic title

Article
1/21/2021
Soldiers in the snow, pulling a sled of materials

Army Sgt. Metcalf and Spc. Galdamez prepare to compete in the 2021 Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. U.S. Army Best Medic Competition later in the month at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Readiness Capabilities

MHS Transformation results continue during COVID-19

Article
1/21/2021
Military personnel in a supply room, reaching for the top shelf

The MTF transition has enabled the DHA and the Services to increase standardization, eliminate duplicative contracts, and realize cost efficiencies by beginning the management of an enterprise-wide program.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Military Health System Transformation

NH Guantanamo Bay Lt. named as Subspecialty Officer of the Year

Article
1/14/2021
Navy Lt. Ara Gutierrez, Naval Readiness and Training Command Guantanamo Bay, was selected Navy Medicine’s Medical Technology Subspecialty Junior Officer of the Year for 2020.

Gutierrez said she was genuinely surprised and honored to represent medicine’s "hidden profession.”

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

MHS refractive surgery experts discuss warfighter readiness

Article
1/13/2021
Image of Mr. McCaffery looking at a monitor with an eye on it. Click to open a larger version of the image.

Refractive surgery is any surgery that eliminates the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Readiness Capabilities

DOD Launches “My MilLife Guide” Text Message Program to Boost Wellness

Article
1/11/2021
The new My MilLife Guide program supports the wellness of the military community.

DoD has launched My MilLife Guide, a new program that sends text messages designed to help the military community boost overall wellness while navigating stresses related to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Public Health | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness & Combat Support

MTF facilities, markets set to resume transition heading into 2021

Article
1/6/2021
Image of a military nurse, wearing a mask, preparing a needle for a vaccination. Click to open a larger version of the image.

Butler says transition on track.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Multi-Service Markets: Our Pathway to the Health Care Market Structure

Barksdale AFB trains medics with Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Article
12/30/2020
Military personnel participating in training exercise, treat a dummy for injuries

Medics of the 2nd Medical Group are becoming a whole lot more lethal, in a good way.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Readiness Capabilities

Health literacy focuses on empowering patients to engage in their care

Article
12/30/2020
Medical personnel, wearing a mask, inserting an IV into a patient

How patient-doctor communication improves the health care experience.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Protecting the Force: How the MHS helped sustain readiness in the face of COVID

Article
12/23/2020
Hospital personnel treating a patient on a stretcher

The Military Health System is reviewing how it kept warfighters mission-ready and units online in 2020 during the ongoing pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Readiness Capabilities

AFHSD’s GEIS collect data worldwide to support force protection

Article
12/22/2020
Medical personnel scanning forehead of soldier with thermometer

AFHSD/GEIS continue work with partners across the globe in their efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Environmental Exposures | Global Health Engagement | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Nurse-led research aims to improve battlefield medicine

Article
12/21/2020
Military nurses working on a simulated patient in a helicopter

[O]ne of their goals is to create novel solutions to optimize survival and functional recovery of burn casualties.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Research & Innovation | Nursing in the Military Health System | Readiness Capabilities

Deputy defense secretary stresses team approach in battling COVID

Article
12/10/2020
Soldier wearing mask, standing at computer monitors in an office building

The Military Health System has played an important role implementing the National Defense Strategy, Norquist said.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

MHS leaders discuss future of military medicine during AMSUS panel

Article
12/9/2020
Military personnel, wearing masks, standing in a line in front of flags

For Dingle, readiness is the key issue during the transition.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Military Health System Transformation

Pandemic underscores MHS’ need for reform, McCaffery tells AMSUS

Article
12/8/2020
Army soldier gets nose swab

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHS had embarked on reforms and initiatives to improve its medical support to the armed services.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

From Ghana to Washington, Sailor provides leadership during COVID-19

Article
9/10/2020

Acquiring supplies, in general, has been a hurdle worldwide.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine
<< < ... 6 7 8 > >> 
Showing results 91 - 105 Page 7 of 8
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 20, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery