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AF Surgeon General testifies before House subcommittee on Defense Health Program funding request

  • Published
  • By Prerana Korpe
  • Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs
Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Mark Ediger testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense during the Defense Health Program budget hearing, March 22 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

During the subcommittee’s open hearing, Gen. Ediger, along with Defense Health Agency’s Director and Army and Navy surgeons general, appeared as a witness in support of the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Health Program budget request.

The general spoke about the work of the Air Force Medical Service in supporting the Air Force and Joint teams. He emphasized the value of military medicine along with the importance and role of active duty personnel, reserve components, military families and veterans, in maintaining a medically ready total force.

Gen. Ediger also called attention to the evolution of critical care aeromedical transport teams into the international benchmark for safe, ICU level patient movement. Air Force deployable hospitals were similarly highlighted, along with advances in technology and innovations in life saving measures undertaken by the Air Force.

In his testimony, Gen. Ediger underscored that readiness has been, and remains the key factor in all the Air Force Medical Service does. “We have asked our medical Airmen to stretch their already broad range of capabilities to support the Air Force and the Joint team, across the full range of military operations. Their ingenuity and accomplishments drive our continuous efforts to identify gaps and progressively enhance our programs, operational procedures and overall readiness,” the general said.

“The care we take forward is more complex than ever before,” said Gen. Ediger. “We need to keep the deployable medical team ready to go forward with a broader range of capabilities than they have had before because we now have the technology, knowledge and techniques to do more in a forward environment.”

The military services spoke about the criticality of military medicine in maintaining a ready force, along with the key to readiness –military treatment facilities and a diverse patient population.

“The bedrock of our readiness is the military hospital,” said Gen. Ediger. In order to keep military medical personnel ready and able to care for the total force, the general explained the importance of providing access to a more complex and diverse patient population. This patient population is inclusive of active duty, military families and veterans.

“The Air Force has 48 sharing agreements with the Veterans Administration providing the complex cases needed to maintain clinical currency of deployable teams while enhancing access to care for veterans with a cost savings to the government,” said Gen. Ediger.

The general stressed that experience has shown the value of primary medical support to active duty families. “[This support] from our military treatment facilities enhances commanders’ efforts to support families under stress and strengthens their resilience,” said Gen. Ediger. “We are strongly committed to the health and resilience of active duty families.”

The AFMS’ portion of the Fiscal Year 2017 president’s budget request fully supports the AFMS mission of providing peacetime and wartime care with an emphasis on patient safety and quality.

USAF. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario "Charo" Gutierrez)