The Defense Health Agency (DHA), a joint effort between the various U.S. armed services to provide medical services to Combatant Commands in both peacetime and wartime, became fully operational on Oct. 1.
“The delivery of high quality, accessible health care serves as the foundation of a ready force — and the life-saving care in the deployed environment is a force multiplier,” Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, said. “This system services others throughout the world, our allies and coalition partners, those struck by natural disasters and needing humanitarian assistance. The Defense Health Agency is a critical enabler of this global mission.”
Woodson said the achievement did not come without obstacles.
“The challenge that we faced when this process started remains the same challenge for us today — how do we sustain our system, keep our service members medically ready, and keep our medical staffs also ready in this changing world?” Woodson said. “The DHA offers the opportunity to accelerate the joint operational success of the past decades to reduce variation, eliminate redundancy and create the conditions for learning and continuous improvement.”
A ceremony was held to acknowledge the DHA milestone.
"In just two short years, we have already done a great deal toward delivering on our promise of providing a medically ready force and ready medical force to combatant commands in both peacetime and wartime,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Douglas Robb, DHA director. “The fact that we are here today is a testament to everyone in the Defense Health Headquarters—the Services and the DHA. Any success is shared success; working together is not only necessary, but right.”
Woodson lauded Robb, who will soon retire, calling him a “warrior’s warrior” and for his “full-throated and infectious enthusiasm for greater jointness.”
Woodson reminded those in attendance that work on the DHA was not done yet.
“Today isn’t really about recognizing how far the Defense Health Agency has come in two short years," Woodson said. "It’s about the promise for the future.”