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Air Force Medical Readiness Agency welcomes new commander

Image of two Airmen holding a guidon.

Lt. Gen. Robert Miller, Department of the Air Force Surgeon General, left, passes the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency guidon to Brig. Gen. Thomas Harrell, AFRMA commander, during an official assumption of command ceremony at the Air Force Memorial, Arlington, Virginia, June 7, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Mahler)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Brig. Gen. Thomas Harrell assumed command of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency, a field operating agency of the Air Force Medical Service, on June 7 at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

Harrell was previously the Medical Operations and Research deputy director, responsible for developing and executing health care policy in support of 43,000 personnel. Throughout his career, Harrell has taken on multiple leadership roles, serving as the Alaskan command surgeon at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the command surgeon at Air Education and Training Command. He is also a board certified cardiologist and a chief flight surgeon. Most recently, Harrell led a team that played a critical role in the initial COVID-19 pandemic response and vaccine distribution.

“Brig. Gen. Harrell is a patriot with a sense of responsibility to his country, he loves the Air Force, and he cares deeply about those he has the privilege to serve,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Miller, Department of the Air Force Surgeon General. “I don’t believe there is any individual better prepared to be the AFMRA commander.”

AFMRA stood up in 2019 with the purpose of increasing the Air Force Medical Service’s focus on operational readiness to align with Air Force and Department of Defense priorities. AFMRA reached full operational capability in January 2021.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, AFMRA played a vital role in supporting the whole-of-government response. AFMRA created deployable COVID Theater Hospital packages that could be rapidly modified into medical strike teams to support FEMA’s request to assist civilian hospitals. AFMRA also wrote policies and guidance on how to safely return to work, supported military treatment facility testing capabilities, and provided infection prevention training for Airmen responsible for safely transporting COVID-19 patients by air. Most recently, AFMRA public health and medical logistics experts were essential in the planning and distributions of COVID-19 vaccine to military treatment facilities.

Harrell closed the assumption of command ceremony recognizing and thanking former and current AFMS leadership, and stressing the importance of prioritizing the people he serves.

“Our commitment as we come into command and serve… is that we value people first,” said Harrell. “Now, we have a job to do and we will do that job, but the better we take care of each other, the better we take care of the mission. The better we take care of each other, the better we take care of our patients… the Airmen, Guardians, and their families who trust us with their health and their lives.”

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