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Air Force Surgeon General briefs Congress on future of Air Force Medicine

  • Published
  • By Peter Holstein
  • Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs
Lt. Gen. Mark Ediger, the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on April 26.

Ediger shared his vision for the future of Air Force Medicine. He told the Committee that while new readiness challenges face the Air Force Medical Service, changes are already underway to address them.

“Air Force Medicine is at a crossroads, said Ediger. “Just as the U.S. Military is mapping its adaptation to a changing security environment, Air Force Medicine is at the confluence of strategic drivers that mandate a path to newly defined operational capabilities. We need a new mix of skills and capacities within the medical force.”

New potential adversaries and theaters of combat require new medical readiness platforms and deployment cycles. Ediger said that the Air Force is starting to deploy lighter and leaner surgical teams and expanding aeromedical evacuation for patients requiring critical care.

 “Critical care during aeromedical transportation has proven transformational for medical support to combat operations,” said Ediger. “We are responding to a significant increase in operational requirements for critical care aeromedical transport teams by repurposing end strength into critical care skillsets.”

Senators asked Ediger to share his view on ongoing reforms to the Military Health System. The Defense Health Agency will assume management of military hospitals and clinics from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, effective October 1. Ediger said he welcomes the opportunities this affords the Air Force.

“The Air Force is fully onboard. We have been applying a great deal of energy and critical thought to working within the Military Health System to map this change,” said Ediger. “We see this as a great opportunity to achieve efficiencies, and set up a progressive military health system that can provide opportunities for new health care models that medicine will offer in the future.”

To view the hearing in full, visit the Senate Appropriations Committee website.