This Month in AFMS History: Spotlighting Lt. Gen. Alexander “Rusty” Sloan

  • Published
  • By Major Kathy Jimenez
  • AFMS History Office

Dr. Alexander “Rusty” Sloan never entertained the idea of becoming the Air Force Surgeon General. Throughout his career, Sloan even tried to avoid serving at the Pentagon; however, he excelled at every assignment, pushing him quickly up into the ranks and putting him on the path to becoming the 14th Air Force Surgeon General.

Lieutenant General Sloan assumed the position of Air Force Surgeon General in August 1991, and served until his retirement in July 1994. He dedicated his Air Force career to what he called the heart of the Air Force Medical Service, to “Support the USAF mission. Stay close to the line. Their mission is our mission.”

In keeping with his vision to support and never lose sight of the AF mission, Sloan undertook a major initiative to restructure the Air Force Medical Service into squadrons, groups and wings to emulate the line structure. Dr. Sloan consulted with the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, and moved forward with his concept. The medical structure allowed for a “patient-oriented, service-line health care experience,” and helped line members understand the AFMS.

Dr. Sloan also played a critical role in the establishment of TRICARE, the managed care program of the Department of Defense. TRICARE established regional health plans under the leadership of a military medical officer and partnered with a managed care support contractor from private industry. For the first time, industry-leading firms across the United States could compete to provide healthcare for an entire region of military beneficiaries, greatly expanding access to care for the broader military community.

“Military medics deploy worldwide in support of the global war on terror in contingency operations,” said Dr. Sloan, “TRICARE has been a good safety valve to provide care for the families back home.”

Dr. Sloan lives with his wife of 60 years, Carol, in Florida. He is one of three partners who owns DIANAssociates, Inc., a leading provider of telehealth clinical services.

Even long after his retirement from the Air Force, Dr. Sloan still reflects on the value that Air Force Medicine brings to the fighting force.

“When the line leader has confidence in his or her medics,” said Sloan, “there is no limit to what can be accomplished.”