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AMEDD strategy supports force health

By Maj. Gen. Richard Thomas/Western Regional Medical Command Commanding General, Chief of the U.S. Army Medical Corps

Published: 11:41AM November 29th, 2012

The U.S. Army Medical Department is the fifth largest health care organization in the world and oversees the medical needs of 3.95 million active-duty members of all services, retirees and their Families. About 400,000 of our beneficiaries receive their health care within the Western Regional Medical Command.

For over 237 years, the mission of Army Medicine has been to “Conserve the Fighting Strength.” Throughout our history, the AMEDD has met our mission while also leading medical innovation. From curing small pox and yellow fever to developing the premier trauma care system in the world, Army Medicine continues to improve health care and lead change in medicine for the benefit of people around the globe.

As our nation enters into its 12th consecutive year of combat operations, the role of the AMEDD has never been more important. Since the beginning of overseas contingency operations in 2001, over 1.5 million service members have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, we still have about 60,000 Soldiers serving in Afghanistan, and thousands more stationed in more than 160 nations around the globe. This has created unprecedented challenges and stressors for America’s Warriors and their Families.

To address these growing demands, Army senior leaders are increasingly focused on the Health of the Force as a new Ready and Resilient Campaign (R2C) is being implemented.

Earlier this year, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Sergeant Major of the Army, Commander of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, the Army Surgeon General and several other senior Army leaders toured military installations around the country to assess the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, installation-level programs and support services, and identify best practices that promote the Health of the Force. The goal of the trip was to identify needs, while ensuring the Army is providing Soldiers, their Families and retirees with the health care and services that they expect and deserve.

While the AMEDD plays an essential role in this new campaign, this is more than a medical effort. The Army’s R2C is a comprehensive program to promote a cultural change across the Army that integrates a holistic approach to how we assess, create, and maintain Soldier resilience in support of total Soldier fitness, individual performance and unit readiness.

Meeting Soldiers’ health care needs is the primary reason that Army Medicine exists. While the medical care requirements of the force have changed over time, Army leaders have recognized the importance of enabling wellness and health. As we have throughout our history, the AMEDD is developing various initiatives to improve the Health of the Force. One such initiative, nested within the R2C, is the Performance Triad Action Plan.

At the direction of U.S. Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Western Regional Medical Command took the lead in overseeing the development of this plan for enhancing activity, nutrition and sleep throughout the Army. All three of these components are key and essential to improving the health of our Soldiers, Families and retirees. And, all have a significant impact on the readiness of our military forces.

In future articles, I will discuss the implementation of innovative programs such as the Community-Based Medical Homes, Child and Family Assistance Centers, Embedded Behavioral Health, Traumatic Brain Injury and Pain Management, among others. These efforts serve as the cornerstone to Army Medicine’s 2020 Strategy as we transform from a “health care system,” where we reactively treat disease, to a “system for health,” where our Soldiers and Families are enabled to be more proactive in developing healthy behaviors for life.