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U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa Hosts U.S. Army Japan’s Commanding General

12 June 2024

From Isaac Savitz

Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan Major General David Womack, Commanding General of the United States Army
Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan Major General David Womack, Commanding General of the United States Army Japan and I Corps (Forward), and his wife Noorie visited the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Gen. Womack met with leadership from USNHO to discuss the medical care for his Army Soldiers, civilians and family members who are stationed here.

Gen. Womack's commands the 10ᵗʰ Support Group in Torri Station along with several other forces and bases in Okinawa, Japan, and mainland Japan. Command Sergeant Major Jeffery Weaver, senior enlisted advisor, USARJ also accompanied the commander.

Providing medical care overseas has always presented unique challenges with different standards of care and systems that differ from those expected by U.S. personnel serving overseas. These challenges are regionally dependent and, in some cases, even differ in the same country depending on geographical location. The transition to the Defense Healthcare Agency and a complete overhaul of military medicine prioritized healthcare for active duty and their families and shifted populations like GS employees, contractors, DODEA teachers, and retirees to the networks around U.S. bases.

Navigating the healthcare system in the U.S. can prove to be difficult already. Combine that with language barriers, culturally contrasting medical practices, and a considerably different insurance process, and you have a diagnosis of frustration. Gen. Womack is working to help develop ideas to alleviate this stress and develop mutually beneficial relationships with local area hospitals and our armed forces stationed here in Japan. One such initiative is the Civilian Healthcare Navigator Program (CHN).

The CHN) program was created to provide language support and access at Zama General Hospital for SOFA status and non-Tricare eligible civilians and contractors assigned to Camp Zama and Atsugi and their families. The service is staffed by four full-time interpreter/translators who will help guide patients through all stages of their medical appointments, from booking appointments through check-out/ departure, to include guidance on insurance claim filing. Zama General Hospital is located approximately 300 meters northeast of the Camp Zama main gate and offers a wide range of medical services.

Womack spoke about a medical program in Korea being used to help U.S. personnel navigate the medical system that was used to help model Camp Zama's CHN. The USARJ General talked about shared resources and how important it is for all the U.S. armed forces to collaborate and share resources. One example was prepositioned medical supplies that could potentially be funded, maintained, and utilized by the combined forces here in Japan. Womack stated, when we can be more joint, it provides better service to our Soldiers, civilians and their family members.

Mrs. Womack asked about the EFMP program here in Okinawa and the challenges it presents to service members who worry about receiving benefits that might affect their deployability and where they can be stationed. Mrs. Womack asked if the system was "problematic" and talked about having a robust system in place to help move the process along expeditiously. Gen. Womack spoke about the importance of our Japanese civilians who work with the military and are crucial to the success of our units by providing that continuity often lost due to frequent military turnover. Womack said, "Japan is the United States' greatest ally," by helping to staff our Master of Labor Contract (MLC) population and other healthcare-related host nation support. U.S. Army Japan is mainly comprised of a workforce of large percentage of Host Nation Employees and U.S. Civilians who are the continuity for this command. As the military soldiers and their families’ transition to their next assignment, it is the Host Nation Employees and Civilians who maintain the important relationships with our Japanese Counterparts for years to come.

Maj. Gen. Womack wrapped up the meeting with a story about a doctor he met while serving in combat who joined the military despite having an incredibly lucrative civilian practice because he wanted to "do more." The point of the story was not only do we have world class health care professionals who are highly trained in competitive programs, our warfighters know that despite the dangers they might face our military healthcare system is second to none and will take care of them if they are injured. U.S. military service members and their families share that same desire and commitment to "do more."

The U.S. Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Okinawa (USNMRTCO) supports the Defense Health Agency's U.S. Naval Hospital, Okinawa (USNHO) as the largest OCONUS Navy Medicine medical treatment facility and stands t ready to respond to contingency operations to support the INDOPACOM region. It is a critical regional asset for direct care delivery, regional referrals, and medical contingency operations. The staff of USNHO understands their vital role as pre-positioned, forward- deployed naval forces within the first island chain, aligned and in support of the joint military commands and operations.

Trey Savitz, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan Comm: 011-81-971-7024
DSN: (315) 646-7024

Story originally posted on DVIDS: U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa Hosts U.S. Army Japan’s Commanding General 

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