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Forging a new path in military health

Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, reflects on the hard work, dedication, and spirit displayed by the Air Force Medical Service family throughout 2018. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg, U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, reflects on the hard work, dedication, and spirit displayed by the Air Force Medical Service family throughout 2018. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- This was a year of tremendous change for Air Force Medicine, of challenges faced and overcome. Everyone in the Air Force Medical Service should be proud of what we accomplished in 2018, and aware of 2019’s opportunities. As I reflect on 2018, I am struck by the hard work, dedication, and spirit displayed by the AFMS family.

One of the most welcome changes I experienced on becoming SG is that I have more opportunities to get out into the field and visit with medics. There is nothing more inspiring and important than hearing directly from you, and listening to your challenges, motivations, and even your frustrations.

In just six months, Chief and I have traveled to installations all over the world. We met Airmen practicing operational medicine in the Middle East, Airmen leading the transition to the Defense Health Agency at Joint Base Charleston, and Airmen stationed in Korea during times of heightened tension on the peninsula. We witnessed the EMT Rodeo at Cannon Air Force Base, celebrated the USAFSAM 75th anniversary, and heard from providers at Shaw AFB setting up an integrated operational support program.

For us, these visits are about learning how we can better support those on the front lines of patient care. At each visit, we call for Airmen to be disruptive innovators. We are standing at an inflection point in the history of military health. The choices we make and the paths we forge have the potential to affect how generations of military medics deliver care.

Every medic should always be searching for new ways to do business, testing better processes, and challenging our established systems. Take risks and create ideas to overturn the market. Don’t look back to what is known and comfortable. Open the aperture, think bigger, think wider. This spirit, practiced at all levels of the AFMS, will transform this challenging moment into an incredible opportunity to better serve our patients, deliver improved medical support to combatant commanders, and create a more agile and efficient system.

As we move forward with AFMS transformation in 2019, I know many are concerned about the future. I understand those concerns. As Robin Sharma says, "Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle, and easiest at the end." We believe when we get to the end, we will have a stronger AFMS and a stronger Military Health System.

As we celebrate this season, please be mindful of people far removed from loved ones. Keep an eye out for a wingman who may be struggling. A quick conversation, phone call, or even text can make a big difference. Thank you for all you do. I look forward to a challenging, but exciting 2019 for Air Force Medicine! Happy holidays!

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