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Surgeon General's Corner - Jan. 2012
Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan
U.S. Navy Surgeon General

Navy Medicine – Ready to Answer All Bells in 2012 and Beyond

By Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy Surgeon General and chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

The continuing assessment of the global demand signals coupled with fiscal realities has allowed both renewal and reshaping of strategic directions. I am confident that Navy Medicine is strong and is ready for the numerous challenges and opportunities ahead of us in the New Year. My goal as your new Navy surgeon general is to foster a culture of leadership at our headquarters in Washington, D.C., that leads and is responsive to your issues whether you serve at an MTF, on the deckplates of our warships or the battlefields around the world to maintain our ability to provide world class care, anytime, anywhere.

We live in dynamic times but we must remember that support to the warfighter and their families is our top priority. As such, it is even more vital that we align our medical capability with the strategic imperatives and direction of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. It is the responsibility of our leaders, myself included, to take their direction and vision and implement it into what we do each day around the world.

As we move forward, it is paramount that we also take a moment to look back and remember the sacrifices of the brave men and women of Navy Medicine have made during the past decade of combat operations. More than half of Navy personnel wounded in action and nearly one-third of those killed in action during these conflicts have been Navy Medicine, whether corpsmen or other medical personnel. These are staggering numbers and ones that I want to highlight and honor as these Sailors represent the very best of what we do—service and sacrifice.

The ability to be prepared to respond to the needs of our nation is inherent in our ethos. We need to maintain a persistent state of high readiness to support everything from kinetic action to humanitarian missions. One key to enhanced readiness as we move forward will be to find new ways to export lessons learned and best practices from our larger medical centers to our smaller healthcare facilities throughout the Navy Medicine global enterprise. Navy Medicine’s hallmark has always been we are already there or we get there soonest! When the world dials 911, it is not to schedule an appointment, and I am proud of the Navy and Marine Corps team and our role in leaning forward in this effort.

The future is indeed bright for Navy Medicine. We have a international footprint which is an important part of our nation’s diplomatic presence around the world. Navy Medicine is forward deployed with our warfighters overseas and our research units with our resident scientists providing a global health benefit around the world. Our personnel serve as ambassadors worldwide and are the heart and soul of the U.S. Navy as a “Global Force for Good.” Our work is also a key enabler of the maritime strategy in terms of direct support to the warfighter and our role in humanitarian assistance / disaster response missions. When our naval forces go forward into harm's way, we will be beside them as we have always done and be ready to care for all on- scene and when they return.

I am encouraged by the opportunities and the shaping that will occur as Navy Medicine moves forward through 2012 and beyond.