JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
U.S. Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Dorothy A. Hogg spoke to medics during a Jan. 9 visit to Brooke Army Medical Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Doctors, nurses and medical technicians from BAMC and Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center gathered for a town hall to hear Hogg’s perspective on the future of military medicine and ask questions in turn.
Hogg serves as functional manager of the Air Force Medical Service and advises senior leaders on the medical component of the air expeditionary force and Airmen’s health. In her role as surgeon general, Hogg also oversees the 44,000-person medical system, planning training, deployment and health care delivery.
With the recent advent of the Defense Health Agency, the General emphasized the future of the military is joint, including military medicine. She encouraged medics at all levels to draw on their counterparts’ strengths.
“The Army is best at ground medicine. The Air Force is best at medevac. Let’s capitalize on that,” Hogg said. She urged her audience to always think, “How can we make this better by making it joint?”
Discounting the benefits of computer-based and “spin-up” training as ineffective and too little, too late, Hogg also foot-stomped the necessity of realistic, frequent and challenging training to be ready for the next conflict or contingency.
“Being ready is the priority. I exist to go to war, you and I wear the uniform to go to war,” she said. “What is that Airman going to see, hear, smell on the battlefield? We need to prepare them for that.”
The general laid out her ideas for using systems already in place to keep her medics current and ready. She plans to capitalize on civilian platforms to give critical care specialists exposure to critical cases while home from deployment. She plans to capitalize on exercises already put on by major commands across the Air Force to run “Medical Red Flags.”
“I remember humping litters, sucking rubber, sweating for 12-hour days. Exercising all day and being hands on. We need to get back to that. We need to stress our medics to prepare them,” Hogg said.
Another topic Hogg was particularly passionate about was modernization and innovation, what she calls “disruptive innovation” or “thinking without the box.”
She detailed several initiatives, including FlexWeb, a web-based system similar to Amazon’s Alexa device that would help streamline all medical systems and enable easier and more expedited delivery of personnel, equipment and care.
“You all are at the bedside, litter side, plane side,” Hogg said, addressing each member of her audience. “You’ve all done something and thought, ‘we could do it better another way.’ Do it.”