Surgeon General Thanks Naval Medical Logistics Command for 168 Years of Service as Personnel Transfer to DHA; Command Realigns

08 November 2021

From Julius Evans

Rear Adm. Bruce L. Gillingham, Surgeon General of the Navy and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), visited Naval Medical Logistics Command (NMLC), Fort Detrick, Maryland, on Oct. 29, to personally thank more than 60 civilian members of the workforce as they transition to the Defense Health Agency (DHA). While the transfers take place
Rear Adm. Bruce L. Gillingham, Surgeon General of the Navy and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), visited Naval Medical Logistics Command (NMLC), Fort Detrick, Maryland, on Oct. 29, to personally thank more than 60 civilian members of the workforce as they transition to the Defense Health Agency (DHA). While the transfers take place Nov. 7, concurrently, all Navy Medical Logistics commands are also realigning.

NMLC provided military treatment facilities (MTFs) and operational customers with medical logistics support in the form of medical equipment, supplies and healthcare service acquisition strategies; clinical engineering technical support for medical equipment; deployable platform allowance configurations; medical logistics business processes and health care information technology system solutions; as well as Navy Office of General Counsel field office support. Some of these functions had already been transferred.

Defense Health Agency assumed these multiple functions, adding to its joint, integrated combat support agency role, which enables the Army, Navy and Air Force medical services to provide a medically ready force and a ready medical force to Combatant Commands in both peacetime and wartime.

Though it has transitioned through many iterations, NMLC has always been a leader in managing resources. Through the transition, realignment, and after, the organization will continue to provide well-trained people who work as cohesive teams on optimized platforms, demonstrating high-value performance that projects medical power in support of Naval superiority.

Gillingham acknowledged the important mission NMLC has successfully achieved for 168 years, dating back to Nov. 1, 1853, when Benjamin Franklin Bache was the commanding officer of U.S. Naval Medical Supply Depot, Brooklyn, NY.

“I hope you are really proud of what you have done, despite some significant challenges,” Gillingham said. “I can certainly tell you that I have a lot of pride in what you do. When I discuss your roles throughout the enterprise and with our partners at DLA, they are amazed at the level of work you accomplish and they appreciate your partnership…thank you for all you do.”

Sharing a more personal story about an urgent readiness requirement, Gillingham discussed a phone call he received from Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Adm. Mike M. Gilday, about a ship off the coast of El Salvador on the cusp of a COVID-19 outbreak.

“The CNO called and said, Doc, I need a team aboard a destroyer--today!” Gillingham explained. He said he received the call from at 9:00 a.m. on a Friday. Gillingham said that he then called Rear Adm. Anne Swap, Commander, Naval Medical Forces Atlantic, and shared with her what the CNO asked. The two quickly coordinated a plan to send a team on a P-8 Poseidon to El Salvador, which then transitioned to the affected ship via helicopter. Every person and every piece of equipment were on station within 10 hours of notification. And none of it happened without Naval Medical Logistics Command, explained Gillingham.

“Once onboard, a medical team used much of the equipment NMLC provided to produce high-level testing that helped Navy Medicine understand the nature of the virus,” said Gillingham. Those results were subsequently published in a medical journal and helped eliminate shipboard outbreaks across the Navy. Gillingham praised the team for its quick response, and noted that despite the coming changes, the team will continue to succeed anytime, anywhere.

The transition of health care delivery to the DHA required significant coordination throughout top military leadership, and the NMLC team has been coordinating transitioning personnel since the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 directed DHA to assume responsibility for the administration and management of healthcare delivery at all MTFs, effective Oct. 1, 2018. However, this was paused due to COVID-19, until Secretary of Defense Mark Esper authorized the Department of Defense to resume transitioning in November 2020.

The personnel transferring to DHA will support its mission, assuring warfighters continue to receive the world-class medical care they have always received at home or outside of the Continental United States. The benefit mission will continue to provide the health care service that family members and other beneficiaries have grown to expect.

Gillingham also explained the difficult decisions that realigned the logistics commands. Moving forward, Navy Expeditionary Medical Support Command (NEMSCOM), in Williamsburg, Va., will report to Naval Medical Forces, Atlantic (NMFL), as an Echelon IV command, once the realignment occurs. NMLC and Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity (NOSTRA) will also be subordinate to NEMSCOM. The Fort Detrick detachment will continue to serve by enhancing the command’s ability to support the surgeon general’s priorities around the world.

While NMLC navigates major changes, the Military Health System remains committed to ensuring that all customers, both military and civilian, experience the same uninterrupted high quality, patient care as they have in the past.
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