FALLS CHURCH, Va. –
Vice Adm. Forrest Faison, Navy surgeon general and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense March 29 to discuss the current status of Navy Medicine, alongside his Army and Air Force counterparts.
His testimony emphasized readiness, a top Navy Medicine priority.
“We have no greater responsibility than sustaining readiness, now and in the future. On any given day, Navy Medicine personnel are forward-deployed with the fleet, Fleet Marine Forces, special warfare units, the joint force and at overseas commands, supporting a high operational tempo and meeting the demand for contingency operations around the world,” Faison said.
Faison differentiated Navy Medicine from private-sector health care organizations because of its readiness responsibilities and surge capabilities.
“We remain one of the few nations that maintain a sizable, ready-to-immediately-surge standing medical force to both support operational contingencies and rapid disaster response, helping to preserve America’s strategic influence in key regions of the world and strengthening relationships with our partners and allies,” he said.
With an eye toward the next conflict, Faison underscored new approaches to training, preparation and operational support, which he said are paramount to sustaining high combat survivability rates.
Critical to this effort are the Navy’s medical personnel and military treatment facilities.
“These military commands are our training and surge platforms where we prepare and then rapidly surge medical forces when needed,” Faison said. “They are readiness and force projection platforms.”
“Combined and integrated within Navy Medicine’s readiness commands and structure, our personnel gain both clinical competencies and develop required military skills in these commands, and are prepared to rapidly surge when required,” he continued.
Faison highlighted hospital corpsmen as another primary reason for high combat-survivability in recent conflicts.
“One of the primary reasons for the high combat-survivability rate we have realized is heroic work by our hospital corpsmen, the Navy’s largest enlisted rating. You, and the American public, can be justifiably proud of their tremendous contributions,” he said.
He also announced changes to the corpsman “A” school curriculum to better prepare corpsmen for the types of injuries they are likely to encounter in a future conflict.
Other examples of Navy Medicine readiness included private and academic partnerships, such as trauma training with Los Angeles County and the University of Southern California, global health engagements during annual humanitarian missions Continuing Promise and Pacific Partnership, and innovative research and development work, including a malaria vaccine.
“America’s Sailors and Marines are the most highly trained, educated and specialized force in our nation’s history, and each is essential to the mission. We in Navy Medicine have no greater calling than to ensure we are doing all we can to provide the best care our nation can offer, and do all in our power to one day, return home alive, safe and well, those who have volunteered to defend our freedom,” Faison said.
Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 personnel that provide healthcare support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments, at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.