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Public Health Supports the Warfighter, Military Community Worldwide

Image of U.S. Public Health Service Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor reflects on his first year as director of Defense Health Agency Public Health. He recently led a town hall discussion on the transformation and reorganization of public health capabilities within the DOD at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. . U.S. Public Health Service Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor reflects on his first year as director of Defense Health Agency Public Health. He recently led a town hall discussion on the transformation and reorganization of public health capabilities within the DOD at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. (Department of Defense photo by Graham Snodgrass)

It's National Public Health Awareness Week from April 5-11, and Defense Health Agency Public Health is committed to recognizing the health professionals and support staff caring for the total health of the joint force, military services, and the Department of Defense global community.

U.S. Public Health Service Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor, director of DHA Public Health, looks forward to participating in this year's activities as he reflects on his first year leading this organization. The one-year anniversary coincided with a visit to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where Taylor led a town hall discussion about the transformation and reorganization of public health capabilities within the DOD.

"The time has gone by so quickly. In spite of the challenges we continue to face, we've proven we are better together," said Taylor.

During his first year, Taylor visited facilities and organizations transferred to DHA as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. He welcomed three new Defense Centers for Public Health to DHA: DCPH-Aberdeen, DCPH-Dayton, and DCPH-Portsmouth, expanding the DHA Public Health team to over 1,000 people. These centers continue to protect the health of their service members and now share a joint mission.

Other highlights of Taylor’s first year include touring the large, minus-30-degree Celsius walk-in freezers at DOD's serum repository; presenting DHA's biosurveillance efforts at a NATO meeting in Munich, Germany; and holding conversations with public health leaders and staff from the military services and the U.S. Public Health Service.

DHA Public Health Deputy Director Sean Friendly spoke positively of the transition at a recent meeting of DHA Public Health leaders and a military public health delegation from Japan.

"DHA Public Health’s health surveillance mission is useful to the combatant commands and to our international military partners that are in contact with an ever-present enemy,” said Friendly. “This enemy is disease. The joint force operational areas and missions drive the science behind the types of surveillance conducted by this organization."

The group discussed the value of accurate health data to protect military forces from various health diseases and threats worldwide. Health surveillance branch leaders shared how they provide timely, relevant, actionable, and comprehensive health surveillance support to the joint staff, combatant commands, and military services.

Taylor looks to the future as transformation continues. Biosurveillance remains a high-priority mission. To further this mission, Taylor and U.S. Navy Cmdr. Matthew Kasper, the DHA Global Emerging Infections Surveillance branch chief, will visit the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 6 in Lima, Peru. GEIS routinely visits its partners at the overseas service laboratories. These visits strengthen relationships between the service laboratories, DHA PH, combatant commands, and the host nation partner.

As 2023 continues to unfold, DHA Public Health will focus on:

  • Developing DHA’s biosurveillance capabilities to support a better biodefense posture for the DOD
  • Ensuring interoperable and agile delivery of public health products and services across the DOD
  • Acquiring and retaining an exceptional public health workforce
  • Fostering current and new relationships with interagency, industry, and international military public health partners

“We’re still in the middle of an extended transition and transformation, and the dust has not yet settled,” said Taylor. “The process will take months and years to complete, and we will navigate situations as they surface. We will work together as a singular Public Health enterprise, as a sum greater than our individual parts.”

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